Turning 50 brings some interesting things into your life, not the least of which is the awareness that you are on the back nine of life. And unless your destiny is to become one of the 100 year old faces on the Smuckers jam anniversary label, you probably have more years behind you than in front of you. Unlike a sudden diagnosis, aging is more of a vague awareness of death. You know it’s coming, but instead of being at your door, it’s down the street a little. At least as far as you know.
This awareness makes you think about the investments you’ve made that will be left after you are gone. And the good news is, you still have time to switch things up.
So here’s a potentially ominous thought if you are rich, and a hopeful thought if you are not. No matter how strategic you are with your money, one day someone else will eventually take over your property, your bank account and all your financial investments.
However the investment of words and actions will leave deposits in the lives of others that will carry on long after you’re gone.
When I was in high school living through the tumultuous reality that my parents were headed for divorce, I was headed to UCLA to become an actress. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I went to a Young Life camp and heard the message for the first time that God not only loved me, He wanted to do life with me, so I invited Him in.
Things didn’t change much at first– I came home to the same life I had when I left. But there was a seed in me that held a future I couldn’t have imagined.
There was one man who could imagine it. He knew God too, and saw something in me, and decided to say something to me about it. One morning after I had gone to a concert with his daughter, the two of us were nursing a hangover and tried to sneak into her kitchen to grab a piece of toast. We turned the corner and came face to face with her dad. Expecting his disdain over our obvious condition, he decided instead to choose that particular moment to speak into my life. He looked at me and said with a warm smile:
“Laurie, I think you will go to Seminary someday.”
I nearly choked. He was dear, but deluded.
Ten years later when I sat in my first seminary class, I realized the power of his words. The man was Neil Clark Warren, and at the time, he was the Dean of Psychology at Fuller Seminary.
Today, he is the founder and CEO of eHarmony.com.
I have often thought back to that moment, wishing I had said back to him: “Dr. Warren, I think someday you will begin an online dating service that will be responsible for hundreds of thousands of successful marriages.”
To which he would have replied, (given that the internet hadn’t been invented) “What’s online?”
The point is, I never forgot his words. They took root in me somewhere- an investment in the trajectory of my life.
There are so many words we don’t say. To our children. Our spouses. Our parents. Our friends. Things we think, but never get out of our mouths. Perhaps when we think back to life-changing words that were deposited into our lives, it will encourage us to make those same deposits in others. Because we never REALLY know when we’re on the back nine of life.
The great news is, we don’t need to make a bunch of money to make these deposits.
We just need to make the time.