Living a life of worth

A grandfather, in his mid-70s, ponders as he hears of the passing of a dear friend. His friend, in otherwise good health, was undergoing routine knee surgery, when, completely without warning, a blood clot took his life.

A mother, in her mid-40s, is shocked to hear that a girlhood friend has been killed in an automobile accident. Just yesterday, the two were comparing notes about raising teenagers, wondering if they, some 30 years ago, were as challenging for their parents as their teens are for them.A 17-year-old is dumbfounded at the passing of her friend. A high school senior, the friend began the school year as best setter on the school volleyball team. She learned mid-season that she had cancer. Before Christmas, she had left this life.

Death is as natural a part of living as is birth. And, while the Savior's resurrection and atonement provide hope for, even joy in, a brighter day, the immediate sorrow is often accompanied by reflection upon what we have done with our own time in mortality.

Though separated by generations, the 76-year-old grandfather, the 45-year-old mother and the 17-year-old high school girl are united in their questions: "What if that were me who died?" "What could be said of my life?" "What would my life be worth?" "What have I accomplished?"

They continue: "What have I added to this life?" "Is anyone's life better because they knew me?" "Is the world, in fact, any better because I was born?"

To answer those questions for their deceased friends was rudimentary.

"Yes," was the resounding response. "The world has been immensely better because they were here." And, while that acclaim was certainly not the goal of their lives, it was definitely the result.

Similarly we should strive, not to make someone's "Top Ten Favorite People" list, but to become the person whose natural course of life blesses others.

Perhaps unknowingly, that's exactly what the grandfather, mother and high school girl did.

As the death of a friend caused them to reflect on their own lives, they might doubt their worth. But those most near them would have no doubts at all.

The grandfather, now retired, arose early day after day, year after year - never complaining, never questioning the need - to work and provide for his family. He made time to be with his family: to wrestle or throw a football with his sons, enjoy a family vacation or conduct family home evening.

His Church service - at the quorum, ward, stake and mission level - was untiring and perhaps best symbolized by (but not limited to) his exacting clerical work. Everything he did - for people of all ages - carried that same mark of excellence.

The mother, though sometimes doubting herself, will be forever remembered by her children as the one who nursed in times of illness, listened in times of need, counseled when the time was right. She seemingly watched every basketball, soccer and baseball game her children ever played and never missed a performance or program.

When the children were young and Dad wasn't around, the children accompanied her while she attended to other duties. The older children remember: one child in her arms, one holding her left pant leg, another holding her right pant leg as they walked to the neighbors, the church or the store.

Through the years, Mom's were the gifts with real meaning, born of her extra thought and care. Even her "care packages" arrived in the mission field with just the right contents.

Her view was always outward, her intent to help someone else. Those who know her the best - her husband and children - know of a certainty of her blessing to this world. It was her example that showed them how to live.

To find her worth to this world, the 17-year-old need look no further than inside herself. For there she will find this essential quality: the courage to be honest.

She was honest enough to understand that she could not survive on others' testimonies. She was honest enough to diligently search for her own. She was honest enough to accept help from others while doing the work herself.

And the Lord, of course, blessed her with His answer.

She may rest assured that, if her life were to suddenly end, the world would clearly be better to have witnessed such honesty.

Few people have bettered our world through a single monumental event. Myriad, however, have blessed this life through consistent, Christ-like living. May we ever be so.

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