Sunday, November 11, 2012

Funeral Thoughts

'Do you want to get married?'

It was one of the most significant memories in a cemetery that I can recall to this day. I still blush thinking about the freudian slip while attempting to ask my best guy friend (whom I also had a severe crush on at the time) if he wanted to be Buried or cremated. We were taking an afternoon stroll through a scenic cemetery in our college town on a crisp fall day. Neither of us knew a proposal was on order, and, in my humiliation, I quickly tried to recover... I've probably subconsciously avoided cemeteries ever since.

But, there are a lot of cemeteries in the northeast.
I went for a short run/long walk in one this afternoon. Creepy, sure... but beautiful, nonetheless. It's a cemetery marked by age and history, not to mention the lakes, trees and rolling hills. Aside from the occasional mind rabbit trail where I imagine the thousands of corpses under the ground that I'm treading upon, I tend to think a lot when I'm in a cemetery. Today was no exception.

When I was younger, I used to think (hypothetically, of course) of the ways that I could fake my own death. Once 'dead', there would obviously be a funeral for me. My grand plan was to find a way to scout out my funeral and see who would actually show up, who would actually care if I died. Would people make an effort to come? Beyond the showing up, I wanted to know what people would say about me, I wanted to hear the eulogies (eugooglies?).  If I could be a fly on the wall of my ant in a blade of grass at my burial...then I would know if I really mattered to people and who I really mattered to.

I imagine other people have had similar thoughts. This desperation in wanting to know that we matter, to know that we're doing something right, that we're making an impact on more people than ourselves. It's a cry to be truly known, loved, cared about.

I was reminded in a sermon today of how risky it is to let people in.
I was also reminded of how worth it it is....and how much we we all, deep down, desire it. We were made for it.

It's interesting, because sometimes I get concerned with the numbers. I think about my funeral with a small number of people in attendance and it makes me feel like I failed at life. But I wonder how much the opposite might be true. That in this pursuit to be known perhaps we make the mistake of getting caught up in how many people we know versus how many people we know. Facebook friendship vs. true friendship, perhaps?

I've realized that my life has become far more about trying to let a mass of people know I care about them and a lot less about letting people actually know me. I'm quick to dodge questions about myself and eager to ask you questions about your life and your own struggles and joys. It's a one-sided where I hope you feel known/loved by me, and one where I escape being known by you. And, as I get to know more people, my ability to truly care about them decreases as my time, energies, efforts are divided. Instead of being a truly good friend to a few, I feel like I'm a disaster of an acquaintance to many.

I'm honestly not sure what this means going forward.
I think there's something to consider as we develop relationships with other people, as we seek to go beyond the surface. Instead of focusing so much on the number of people that we are Facebook friends with, what might it look like to consider the depth of those friendships. Do you have authentic relationships with others? Relationships where people encourage you, but also challenge your weaknesses and call you to something greater? Relationships where people know you, even the 'not-so-hot' you? Relationships where you know you are supported, cared about...and loved... no matter what?

I don't think this unattainable.
I just think it's scary. But it's what we want... whether you're ready to admit it or not.
I have a few of these friendships, and, to be honest, they sometimes tend to be the people that I run from the most...the people that I find most annoying at times because they ask the hard questions and expect more from me. I can't hide from them, but yet I try. They are friendships that push me toward Christ in ways that others simply cannot. They are good. They are necessary.

I don't think we need every relationship on earth to be like this. I think that's an unrealistic expectation. But, we need some. Even Jesus only had a few close buds.

I hope we become people who care much more about quality than we do quantity. I hope we become people who are willing to go 'there' with a few people in life.

Think about it.

And if, by some chance, I do get to witness my funeral? I hope I'm just thankful for those deep friendships instead of disappointed by a lack of attendance. That my significance and worth wouldn't come from fame or popularity...but from something much greater. Being truly known, loved and adopted by the Creator of the universe...and from that, may everything else flow.

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