What About Your Dash?

by Karen

I was born in 1983, but that isn’t really important. I don’t know what year I will die, and that isn’t really important either (although, I certainly hope I don’t kick the bucket anytime soon). But you know what is important? That teeny, tiny, seemingly insignificant dash on the headstone. That little dash represents my existence here on Earth and the impact I will have on family, friends, and strangers.

I have often stated that I don’t care to live a life where I am just checking off boxes. College – check. Marriage – check. Graduate school – check. Start a family – check. Sure, I have taken a more traditional route through adulthood that I’m sure that causes some to roll their eyes in disgust (“You got married at age 21!?!“). I never backpacked through Europe, I haven’t loved many men, I sacrificed elements of my career to marry and follow a soldier, and I took time off from said mishmash career to stay home with our little guy. But I have also moved throughout the United States, immersed myself in different communities, experience the horrors of war waiting on the homefront, and learned that I am happiest when serving others.

A Bible Study we completed last month (When The Game is Over, it All Goes Back in the Box) by John Ortberg discussed the concept of what our dash will represent. I have all the days in my life to either squander or live wisely. The choice is mine. And I have learned that I don’t want an easy, comfortable, and challenge-avoiding life. And I don’t want my dash to represent the quest for money or power, or represent the lust of material goods that will eventually rot away in a landfill. I want to live a life of meaning and purpose. And I want my dash to represent love, service, and a positive impact on communities.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” I don’t want a lazy life. I don’t want to be afraid to take risks. If I am called out of comfort and into a challenge, I want to be willing to take the risk. If my life associated with the military has taught me anything, it is that there is always a way – the body, mind, and heart are more capable that one would ever believe. And that being afraid to take risks and unwilling to be flexible will almost always result in missed opportunities and a lack of growth.

I want to leave the port as often as I can. Life is an adventure. And life is an opportunity. I refuse to let it squander in too much comfort. What about your dash?