How do you speak of your life? What words do you choose? What do you say? Among the several books that I read during this past winter, I was introduced to Six Word Memoirs: Not Quite What I Was Planning. It is a compilation of various attempts to summarize one’s life in a mere six words. It began as an on-line challenge, and many thousand responses later, there are several compiled volumes.
If you had just six words to summarize your life, what would they be? What would you say? Here are some of my favorites from the first compilation.
Lost and found; rescued by dog.
Everyone who loved me is dead.
Time to start over again, again.
My life is a beautiful accident.
I colored outside of the lines.
I fell far from the tree.
Always working on the next chapter.
Named Hope. How else to be?
So what about you? What six words would you choose to tell the story of your life? Or, what six words might others use to speak about you?
In the New Testament book of Acts, there is a reference to Barnabas that pretty much sums up his life. “He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” It is not six words; it is twelve -- double the six word memoir -- but it is a remarkable remembrance of a life. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.
What strikes me about this remembrance of Barnabas is that it speaks to his “being,” not his “doing.” Every one of us can most likely think of countless times when we have been commended for something we did – great job on that test! Excellent presentation! Fantastic report! Terrific meeting!
Likewise, we can all recall times when we have been told that something we have done did not meet standards. That presentation could have been better. You really missed the mark on that project. Maybe next time, you’ll remember to …
We are a culture that thrives on “doing” and often locates our worth within our deeds. But these words about Barnabas remind us that there is goodness in being. There is goodness apart from anything that you do or fail to do.
You are a good woman, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. You are a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.
Try it on for size. Look yourself in the eye, and speak these holy words of affirmation to your soul. Try it with others – your friends, co-workers, family – tell them, you are a good man … you are a good woman. Do it daily, and you just might be surprised at what a difference it makes for you. You just might be surprised at what a difference it makes for those who walk this journey with you.
Twelve simple words. Let them carry you throughout the summer. Let them fill you where you work and where you play.
Twelve simple words. May they restore you, empower you, and remind you of your essential worth. Wear them as a mantle around your shoulders and a blanket around your heart.
God Bless your being –
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.