The story, probably not true but fun to think it so, is that Ernest Hemingway was having lunch at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City (I’ve had lunch there with my oldest and someone asked him if I was famous) with some other writers and wrote those words on a napkin. A novel in six words, he said. A very sad novel. The lost future, the probable lost marriage, the terrible waste of a life summed up in “Baby Shoes: For Sale. Never Worn.”
Equally sad are those who think because they have lived a long time and done much, that their lives really matter. Like Mr. Potter, in Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life” who serves as such a bad example of how to live your life. In the end, he was just a selfish, lonely, and miserable man. We all know, deep down, that it’s never about what you’ve done, who you know, how much you have, or how many love you. It’s about who you are, how you live, and do you make life better for others or just yourself?
I think about Karen’s life a lot since I was a part of it for over half a century. She lived life, all of it, in ways that have always made me proud. It’s why anger has never been a part of my grief, neither at God for wanting her, or her for leaving me behind. She knew how strong I was, and God knew why I was still needed here. One woman who wrote on Karen’s passing said that Karen was the first person to ever ask if she’d been saved—while they were both in high school.
She was hand in hand with Christ as a child. When I would drift away from God—so many times, she would look to Christ with tears in her eyes, and He would tell her not to be sad, that I would be back and that she would be proud. And I did come back, and she was proud because she told me she was.
In the end, I became the kind of Christian she was—from the inside out. Christ filled my soul and wasn’t just clothes I could put on or take off. Christ lifted me above and beyond denominational description and made me a missionary to everyone. Karen found the place that she knew God wanted her, and I went with her and still live my Christianity here, in Africa.
When Karen was in the third grade, she was asked to write a paper on a major theme (some teacher, eh?) and she chose Africa as her topic. Perhaps a little ambitious for a third-grader, but then she ended her life in Africa living out her mission to children, especially orphans.
She was a special wife, a special mother, a special teacher, and a special friend. On her memorial stone are these words in Swahili: “Anapenda kila mtoto” which means, “She loved every child.” I truly believe her life, all seventy-four years of it, can be summed up in six very happy words: “She Loved: Every Child. They Knew.”
How sad for a man if when he dies, these are the words on his stone: “He lived. He died. Few knew.”
How powerful six words can be.
Christ Loved: All Others. Do You?