Need Motivation? Attend a Good Funeral
That may sound like an oxymoron, a figure of speech containing words that seem to contradict each other, like “motivation and good” combined with “funeral”. Four motivational, good funerals were those I attended in the last four months because each one was a celebration of life of those who positively impacted the lives of their friends and loved ones.
Monday’s funeral, this week, was no exception. This one packed a punch — of memories of old songs that stirred up the sweetest memories of congregations and choirs belting out praises to God. I grew up on those familiar songs — singing, verse after verse, without a need for the song sheets. There were memories of family get-togethers, childhood orneriness, beautiful reflections of divine set-ups that brought love and marriage of immigrants to this country and laughter at the recollections. But most of all, I left with desiring to live on purpose in this life because it really is short – in the light of eternity that really is forever, and forever is a long time!
This was the celebration of life of Aunt Iris Litke (my husband’s dad’s sister). I heard it said many times and I see it clearly now. She favored Queen Elizabeth, in looks, style and elegance. She was an influencer. A cousin shared that Aunt Iris gave her love, attention and compliments that carried over to her becoming that kind of person to others today. Another cousin, a self-proclaimed introvert, was greatly impacted when Aunt Iris spoke into her: “You are and will be a great helper to others.” Those words impacted her and that’s exactly her strength today as helping others is her greatest desire and goal. Another cousin recalled her providing the best meals and was responsible for introducing him to tacos for the first time. Another cousin touted “She introduced me to a new restaurant, McDonald’s!”
Pastor Wesley Wuerch, another cousin, officiated the service, and gave a beautiful overview of the genealogy of this family that hailed from Austria, Germany and Russia and immigrated to the safety nets of the U.S and Canada during the heat of World War II. A beautiful story of finding true love in countries they came to love, build homes, farm, and raise families there.
Wesley’s most impactful words to me were those from Proverbs 31 where the question is asked “Who can find a virtuous woman?” He said, “You’ll find the answer to the question in verse 30: “The one who fears the Lord.” That was Aunt Iris. Different ones said: “She had an infectious smile that invited you into her presence. She accepted everyone. She smiled so much they just wanted to be around her. It certainly gave me the desire to bear an infectious smile, too! Wesley went on to talk about her infectious voice and song. As a matter of fact, this family is still exceptionally talented as I heard 4-part harmony as they raised the rafters in that little chapel singing out songs about heaven. Beautiful, heavenly music. Bottom line — Aunt Iris loved big because Jesus was the center of her life.
If you haven’t been to a funeral lately and you could use a boost of motivation that makes you want to be a role model and imitator of Christ to others, too, I recommend you take one in and celebrate the gift of life. When you get there, you’ll hear the best things about that person. It will make a lasting impression on you. Just hearing such words of admiration, can sure make us want to stand taller, smile more and live with gusto each day. Concern for how we look doesn’t matter in the least — well unless you look like a queen or king, but I’m thinking I want to represent well the life that God has given me. Only one. Maybe it’s time we all begin today with eternity in mind and the potential words that will be said of us at our memorial service. Maybe it would create the desire in us to step it up a notch.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16