GENDUSA COLUMN: Do good while standing strong

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, February 23, 2022

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Daddy always said, “The only problem with living long is watching others go away while I still stand strong.” He was right about that. 

Many in my family lived long lives, and they were surrounded throughout their days with an abundance of good friends. However, when the Lord finally called them home, few friends were left to bid them farewell. 

My friend, Allison, passed away this week. She was quite a force in the writing world who edited words, wrote books, and inspired many with her wisdom. She was one of the first who thought a southern chic could tell a story she could promote. Today, because she believed in me, I am blessed to see my essays in senior publications throughout the country. 

I met her only once in Denver, but one didn’t need to physically see Allison to know her. Her humor, skill and enthusiasm permeated through her letters and into our hearts. What a gift she was to the publishing world and to me.

Her earthly life is over, but boy, did she do good while she was here!

Isn’t that what our journey here is all about? Doing good while we are here? No matter how long we live, the point is to live well. Living to be old should never become a primary purpose. A person who lives richly by caring for others with sincere devotion lives forever.

One of my best friends passed away at the age of 52. I can quietly be in my office, recall something she said, and start laughing because the girl was such a hoot.  She was cheerful, loving, kind and could sing like an angel. What an impact she had on so many because she lived well. 

Ryan White, the courageous child, infected with AIDS in the early days of the outbreak, spent all his remaining days teaching others about the disease. He died one month before his high school graduation, leaving this earth a hero. Even though his years were short, long will live his spirit. How many have been blessed by Ryan White’s short life? Countless.

The sum of our life is not counted in days but in deeds. I have said this many times, but I will share my theory again. I believe our tenure on earth is a test to see if we can fulfill the purpose of why we are here.

Those who promote ill will, violence, and prejudice of any type, fail. We get a big fat F on our report card if we are self-righteous, cantankerous, complainers, or are hate-filled. We will leave no exemplary, lasting footprints for loved ones to follow. 

We all make mistakes in life, and we sin and often fail miserably. But in the end, if we atone and truthfully try, we just might pass the final exam because we overcame our errors with integrity, kindness and humility. That is what living well is all about.

We wake every morning, never knowing if it will be our last day to accomplish those things we desire to do. When we procrastinate, waste our days, and spend precious time doing little for others, we come to the end of the road saying, “I should have, or why didn’t I do…?” And guess who is waiting at the stop sign?

How do we face God with a failed report card?

All of us are blessed to have the opportunity to take the test. We are given a chance in life to be caring and help humankind. It is usually bigotry, money, fame, power, and evil that thwart our purpose and cause us to ignore the teacher. The Holy Professor taught us how to live well, be happy, and leave a positive imprint on the earth. 

A boy was born long ago and lived a short earthly life. For a mere 33 years, he taught us that love, faith, compassion, understanding, forgiveness, and thankfulness were the keys to living a good life. He was not wealthy, had no awards, and dared anyone to judge others. He suffered on a cross, died and rose again for us all to follow in his mighty footprints. 

And to this day, 2022 years later, he still walks among us, teaching in whispers as he goes. So, if I pass the test and join those friends and family members who received A’s for achieving their purpose well, my sadness will be gone. And, I will rejoice in their accomplishments, praying I, too, left a footprint on the earth.

What will you do well today while you are still standing strong?