Impact, Loss, Perspective

Impact: Second Chances

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

There’s something introspective about participating in a memorial service. Especially when it is for someone who was so young.

Over the weekend, Hubs and I attended the memorial service for our friends’ daughter. We both teared up. We both laughed. And God spoke to my heart.

For only having lived twenty-one years, this young woman impacted many lives. 

The pastor brought out some beautiful truths about living . . . and dying.

There’s something about a memorial service that causes us to reflect on our lives, our regrets, our joys. 

Where we’re at now. 

Where we’ve been. 

Where we think we are going.

He talked about how no one would be talking about her bank account and how much was or wasn’t in it. We all know, when someone dies, their bank account isn’t an accurate reflection of the essence of who they are. 

Instead, people shared about her character account. 

She was joyful.

Stubborn.

Authentic.

A lover of people.

Passionate. 

And most of all, a lover of Jesus.

This young lady just living life as her impacted people. They were changed by having been in relationship with her. 

I looked back on where I was at twenty-one years old. My heart, my mindset. What drove me. My friend’s daughter had traveled internationally on missions trips. She’d had fights with her friends. And learned how to forgive and be forgiven. 

She had a bead on who she was when God took her home. She was a deep thinker.

I was insecure, having let life define who I thought I should be. I hadn’t traveled to far-away countries, in part because I only relied on me (rather than bringing God into the mix) to come up with the money. And in part because . . . well, none of my friends were doing this. 

As the pastor shared about the impression this young lady left on the lives she touched, it challenged me. 

What will people say at my memorial service? What kind of impression will I have left? Will I have reflected Jesus’ love—His joy—to those whose lives intersected with mine? Will they laugh at some goofy thing I did? Will they say that I loved well?

That’s my hope. I have more days to live solidly for Jesus. I do my best, but let’s face it. I’m flawed. I still give in to my insecurities. If we’re honest, I’d bet we all still have moments when we give into those flawed areas in our character that God is still refining. 

God has given me moments here on earth to make an impact for Him. I want to love more fiercely. Be “all in the moment” when I talk with people, especially my husband and sons. 

I want to be unflinchingly honest about what I believe about Jesus. I want to live with authenticity and not worry about what others will think about my choices. I want to lean harder on the Lord when the difficult seasons come. 

And they always come.

I want to leave an imprint of love on people’s lives, so there is no doubt that I loved Jesus, and them.

To do this, I must not fear the trials God allows into my life. I need to wade into the uncomfortable waters of complete honesty without worrying what others will think about me.

And most of all, I need to walk through the difficult seasons with Jesus. 

“Sunshine all the time makes a desert.” ~Arab Proverb

God allows the tears into our lives because that’s how we grow deeper. It’s in places of sorrow and mourning where we see Him and His love for us. We learn the deeper things when we mourn. And our lives become an oasis. 

When I struggle, I don’t want to be afraid of the tears, but to embrace them. To know that I know that God is working in the deep places in my heart. 

He walks with us through the hard seasons. And, when we lean into Him . . . 

When we struggle with him about the things we don’t understand . . . 

When we cry out to Him when things feel unfair . . .

When we get real with Him, He reveals more of His heart to us.

This is when we begin to have a more powerful, more authentic impact on others.

My friend’s daughter lived all the days planned out for her. Her impact will continue in the lives of those who knew her.

You and I still have moments where we can grow. God’s only given us so many days to walk this earth and to live a life of impact for Him. 

At times, I have lived as less than all God created me to be. I’m thankful for the reminders He shared with me at the memorial service. 

And I’m thankful for the second-chances (and third chances, and hundreds of chances) He offers us. I intend to take the days and live them out with intention.

What about you? How do you make an impact on the lives around you? When has someone’s life impacted you?

***I will be out of town today (Tuesday) but I will be catching up on commenting and visiting through the rest of the week.***

Click to Tweet: God has given me moments here on earth to make an impact for Him

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, and Holley Gerth

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46 thoughts on “Impact: Second Chances”

  1. What a lovely meditation, jeanne; your friends are so very lucky to have you in their lives.

    I hope that when I finally die,
    no one sheds a tear,
    nor says more than “Why,
    he drank a LOT of beer.”
    The day should be a normal day,
    the service rockin’ out
    and all the dogs will be at play
    with one big canine shout.
    My friends will get all good and drunk
    and then go try to shoot
    beer cans and the occasional skunk
    (they’ll miss because he’s cute!)
    Don’t cry for me, I’m not in the dirt,
    but in Heaven layin’ on rugby hurt.

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    1. Andrew, I grinned when I read this, because it’s so you. 🙂 But, I have to tell you. The day I learn that you’ve made the great transition, there will be tears. Sad tears because I’ll miss our interactions so much. And happy tears because you will be in heaven and out of pain. You are in my prayers, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. These are beautiful reflections, Jeanne! I agree, memorial services can cause us to think about these things and call us back to what is really important. I think often we don’t see the impact we are having on others, but it is a great reminder to keep our focus on God and on loving others well, and hopefully he will use us to impact others for him.

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    1. Thank you, Lesley. I think you are right. People have an impact on us and never have a clue how God used them in our lives. I guess He does the same thing with us . . . we don’t always know how He’s using us. There’s encouragement in that. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeanne, I am so sorry for the loss of your friend’s daughter. Losing a vibrant young woman at only 21 is heartbreaking. You are exactly right – no one will be talking about your bank account at your memorial service, rather they will be talking about what matters – how you impacted others. You, Jeanne, are a wonderful example of someone who impacts lives in a positive, uplifting way. Yes, we all can grow. We can become more intentional in our lives, more compassionate with those we come in contact with, we can let God’s light shine more strongly through us. Thank you for this touching message.

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    1. Thank you, Laurie. It truly is heartbreaking to lose someone at 21. Thank you for your kinds words, too, friend. We can all grow and be more intentional. I’ve been thinking a lot about that this week, and praying as God brings opportunities across my path. May you and I both be light-shiners into the lives of those around us.

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  4. Jeanne, I am so sorry for the loss of this young life. Your thoughts here are just beautiful. These words became my prayer this morning: “I want to leave an imprint of love on people’s lives, so there is no doubt that I loved Jesus, and them.” I want to love well. Blessings!

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  5. I’m so sorry for the loss you are experiencing in your community.
    And I agree with you that there is nothing like a memorial service to stop us in our tracks and to inspire some pretty deep thinking.
    Enjoy your day away!

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  6. Your post reminds me of a Christian song. And no I dont remember the title or artist, but it’s about people seeing more of Jesus than us. Something we want to be said of us.

    I’ll be praying for this family.

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    1. Theresa, now you have me curious about that song. 😉 I love that idea of people seeing more of Jesus that of us. That is definitely my prayer. Thanks so much for the prayers. It means a lot to my friend’s family.

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  7. Jeanne, I believe we are kindred spirits as I resonated with all your words regarding insecurities! This young lady, it sounds like, had done God’s calling on her and now she gets to be with Him eternally, forever more. May we all be the all that He wants us to be and know no matter the accolades or lack of while here in the flesh, He is smiling down on us saying “my beautiful darling, you are wonderfully representing me in all that you are.”

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    1. Lynn, I do believe we are kindred spirits. I know God knew the number of this young woman’s days.It was just shocking to see how small that number was compared to most. But . . . God also knows the plans and purposes He has for each life. We can’t know those things. I guess that’s when trusting Him and His sovereignty comes into play. Thanks for the picture of Jesus smiling down on us and calling us beautiful and darling. 🙂 May we be intentional and consistent in representing Him well.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What searing loss, Jeanne. How unspeakable the pain. There are no words …

    We’re living our legacies right this very minute. The words we write, the hugs we give, the tasks we do, the love and grace we show.

    May it be pleasing in His sight …

    May you be comforted this afternoon, friend.

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    1. Linda, your words about us living our legacies right this minute reached out and grabbed my heart. That is such a great perspective. I will pray your prayer . . . that all that I do and say would be pleasing in His sight. Thank you for being you!

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  9. I’m so sorry for your friend’s loss and yours, Jeanne. So devastating. May God give each of you special comfort and strength! Along with you, “I want to be unflinchingly honest about what I believe about Jesus. I want to live with authenticity and not worry about what others will think about my choices. I want to lean harder on the Lord when the difficult seasons come.” Love and blessings to you!

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  10. What a powerful – and sobering – thought….what will our impact be? What will they say and remember about my life one day? Grateful this morning that I still have today to invest in others, to impact lives and to overcome regrets. Thanks for the challenge!

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    1. Jennifer, this is a powerful thought. I believe God wants each of us to impact the lives of the people He’s placed around us. Whether they be many or few. I’m with you…thankful for another day to invest in others, impact lives, and overcome regrets.

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  11. “He walks with us through the hard seasons.”

    He does indeed. And I’m so glad He could be there with you and your through this challenge. Funerals are so hard–especially for the young. They serve to remind us to make the best of our time here.

    Thank you for sharing. God bless!

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    1. Nancy, one promise I cling to is that Jesus never leaves us or forsakes us. I’m so thankful He walks with us through every valley and mountain top and all the places in between. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here!

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  12. I’m so sorry for your loss. We lost a young friend about the same age around a year ago and we were impacted in much the same way as you. It truly does cause you to examine your own life, what matters, and living a life of worth.

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    1. Susan, I was so sorry to read of the loss of your friend. When a young person dies, it really challenges me to look at my life and filter it through what Jesus is showing me at that time. Like you, I want to live a life of worth. Thanks so much for visiting!

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    1. Anne, thank you for those prayers and hugs. Thinking life should be easy is a rather limiting way to live. But, knowing God is with us and that all things are possible with Him does help in those seasons when life is really hard. Thanks so much for visiting!

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  13. Funerals and memorial services are some of the best places for lessons on life. They remind us of the coming fact – we will one day die. They impress upon us what is truly important, what will be remembered, and what will not. Being with those who mourn is a significant part of being a Christians. Not only are we instructed to comfort the mourning, as I’m sure you did for this young friend’s parents, but we also learn vital lessons. Thank you for sharing yours.

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    1. Melinda, you’re right. Funerals and memorial services do impress upon us that which is/should be most important. They force us to slow down, even for a little while, and ponder the choices we’re making and if that’s what we most want. I so appreciate all your thoughts here. Thank you so much for visiting my place!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I love this… she sounds like a beautiful soul. And to have a handle on things at age 21 like she did is such a testament! Thanks for the nudge to consider the kind of legacy I will leave behind.

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