Simon Sinek has made a whole career of asking people a one-word question: Why? His endgame is getting people to do the stuff that sets their soul on fire because who really wants to go through life having no idea what their “why” is or worse, knowing what it is but having no way to live it out. And then when you know your “why”, your ability to lead and be awesome increases exponentially.
Nearly 3 years ago, I was, without warning, tasked with delivering a 2-minute speech that answered the questions “Who I am? What I do? Why I’m here?”. I don’t remember exactly what I said but I stammered through “wife of, mama of, 3-time suicide survivor, past jobs, former gymnast…” Nothing earth shattering. My “Who? What? Why?” today is vastly different than whatever it was that came tumbling from my mouth in April 2016.
Writing your own obituary and eulogy will do that to you. Or at least it will if what you want people to write and say about you doesn’t exactly line up with who you really are.
I was reminded of that first two-minute speech while sitting at a service in Lexington last week for the beloved daddy of a member of my tribe, who’d lost an incredibly courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. As Pop’s grandsons stood up to share their admiration for their best friend, trusted confidant, biggest supporter, ardent cheerleader, dedicated coach and hero, that first eulogy I wrote came flooding back to mind. In the minister’s remarks, we were treated to a “version” of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 that I hadn’t heard before. “Love is patient, kind, doesn’t boast or keep record of wrongs, endures all, etc” took on a whole new meaning when the minister substituted “Jim” for “love”. There is zero doubt that Jim/Pop not only knew his “why” – he lived it out loud for all to see!
There’s a lot from my original eulogy that I’m still working to make possible for someone to say when the day arrives that Jesus calls me Home. In the midst of working on shutting down a whole slew of lies I’ve believed to be true about me for as long as I can remember and a litany of mindset type work/therapy/lifestyle changes, I also had a therapist who “just happened” to have done her Masters work in value-based pain management. While it would take a while for my “lifetime of chronic pain” to have a name, she wasn’t waiting for a diagnosis; she handed me a list of 86 “values” and told me to pick 10. I laughed and then saw the look on her face – she wasn’t joking. “Pick 10 values. 10. Not a single one more.” She essentially had me select what I’ve come to use as the “litmus test” for “my why”.
It’s taken a ton of practice (and failure and more failure and snot-bubble crying while balled up on my bathroom floor and telling guilt to shut up) but I’ve gotten pretty good at the things I say “yes” to lining up with those 10 words. It’s meant saying “no”, which isn’t a word I’ve ever been comfortable thinking about much less actually saying, and the world not ending as a result of saying it many, many times for me to even begin to feel okay with “no”. It required me to remove the cape and “S” on my chest, tell my tribe what I was working on, asking people to hold me accountable and be super patient while 40 year old habits and patterns of thinking got an overhaul. I was certain, almost daily, that I would die – this “becoming the best version of me” work would be the very thing that killed me.
And somehow, just when I needed it most, Jesus would show up with a “Hey, I’m still here; so are you. We’ve got this.” They’ve come in the form of a song or a quote or Verse of the Day or a text from a tribe member and never fail to be delivered when they’re needed the most. I’m learning to look for the “wins”, learn from the “losses” and ignore the noise that tries to convince me it’s selfish to stick to the stuff that allows me to be the wife, mama, daughter, sister, friend, partner, community leader I believe He made me to be.
The April ’16 version of Amy Miller would be berating herself daily, hourly more likely, for every “still working on that one” but I’ve come to be gentler with myself – it’s nearly impossible to extend authentic grace, mercy and forgiveness to other people when you don’t believe you deserve it too. It’s no surprise that the hardest part of writing my eulogy is what I want my boys to say and remember about me. I’m hoping with all hope they remember a mama who refused to quit, asked for their forgiveness, appreciated being held accountable when her “why” and her words/actions didn’t add up, tried to leave people and places better than she found them, and that during their middle and high school years, she “launched” them with the same words she said to herself each morning: “Have a good day. I love you. Be good to yourself and others.”
Be good to yourself and others y’all – the world is, with great anticipation, waiting for you and your “why”. ♥