This topic is one that has rested in my draft category for a long time. I am still not sure what I want written on my headstone, but I want to talk this through. I decided the best place to start was to explore what others had engraved at their burial place.
I found this one rather amusing: Sir John Strange; Here lies an honest lawyer, And that is Strange. ~ Tombstone in England
Almost funny: She always said her feet were killing her, but nobody believed her. ~ Virginia tombstone
This one fit the personality of what I know about the man: I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter. Winston Churchill
This last one made me sad because little does this person know what is coming despite what they may believe: Here lies an atheist all dressed up and no place to go. ~ Maryland Tombstone
I visited a few other websites which offered “heartfelt messages written with dignity and love.” Such an example would be “He (She) Touched The Lives Of Many.” Then there were other sites that shared suggestions much like the “feet were killing me” I mentioned before.
After browsing through a number of suggested epitaphs, I found some very nice sounding messages. And if they would find their way to my headstone, some would fit–just as they would for a great number of other people I know.
That realization brought a little perspective to this topic for me. Sometimes what I see as a special strength in me is pretty common in others. That is not bad for me to know. But, I need to avoid trying to pat myself on the back as I cannot see what is behind me. It could always be another bottle.
Usually, what is written on a headstone is something that others recognized in that person. What is engraved in stone is a trait or behavior for which he or she is remembered. That is something that makes me a little uncomfortable.
It’s not that I am afraid that what could be chosen would be something less than positive. I know my family loves me. (Besides, I do not think I will be in a position to read it anyway.)
What troubles me is that whatever is written would be in set in stone. I know I have never been an engraved-in-stone person. (My wife knows that only too well but she is loving enough to not make that my most redeeming quality.) There are times when I can be loving and thoughtful and kind and hardworking.
Then there are the other times when I live only for myself. All those memorable good qualities are thrown aside as I become the center of my life. And while it is an accurate picture of who I am, it is certainly nothing I for which I care to be remembered. I am not sure I would want something recorded like John was really a good husband, father and grandfather–except when he wasn’t.
The greater reality is, even if I do not want to be remembered for the negative parts of my life, I cannot claim any of the good as my own, even though it would read better as an epitaph. With Paul I need to confess, But by the grace of God I am what I am, … and yet it wasn’t my doing, but it was the grace of God, which was with me, 1 Corinthians 15:10 EHV.
What my gravestone should read is John was born a sinner and would have been eternally condemned to hell would it not have been for the grace of God. That undeserved love was shown as Jesus came to earth to die for the punishment of all of John’s sins. Even more, as Jesus’ love compelled him and with the power given to him, John was able to show love and compassion to others, except when he decided he was the most important thing in this world.
Gulp! I am certainly relieved that no headstone we can afford is large enough for that message. But more, I am eternally thankful that Jesus came into my life through faith that was begun by the Holy Spirit through the Bible.
So, after all this, what will be written on my headstone? I do not know if I really want anything or if there even will be an epitaph. But if there is one, I think I would be most comfortable with He was given Jesus.
Thanks for reading my blog. And, no, I do not plan on needing a headstone in the foreseeable future. So I hope you come back. I will wait you.