It is unassuming, hardly noticeable, yet this single line will be the most important marking on any item that states your birth and your death. It is the “dash” between the dates.” This dash represents “your life.” It is the line that represents the “mark you left” upon the world.

We have all visited a memorial site where rows upon rows of past lives are on display. The landscapes can be quite beautiful and peaceful. The headstones vary in size, shape and statements. Some are quite simple with nothing more than a name with a birth and death date. While others loom large and grandiose with long testaments validating the importance of the remains beneath our feet. Whatever the size, shape or length of the heartfelt tributes, the discussion should begin and end with “the dash between the dates.” This is the most important carving on the headstone. This “dash” is your life!

What do we really achieve over the span of a lifetime? Sure, we become educated, choose careers, marry and have families. Yet, was the soul really at peace during that time? Did we achieve what we wanted to do or was our life a series of events orchestrated by the desires of someone else? Were we content and satisfied within the depth of our soul or does a longing linger? If what you have gained has not eased the longing, then you may want to begin rethinking where you are headed and more importantly, what will you do about it?

As we look over our lives, maybe we need to stop and take a long look at the choices we are making to ensure we are living the life that we desire and not the life someone deems right for us.

If you had the opportunity to go back in time, would you change anything? You may answer quickly with an emphatic “no.” You may feel that the bends in the road on your journey gives richness of character to your “dash.” If you answered “yes” most likely, the changes would be in the realm of “more.” More money, more love, more education, more achievements more travel, more, more, and more. Yet, the one consideration that is often overlooked is the change to have been a better person. The reason for this significant oversight is because society doesn’t measure being a good person. When magazines name their “Person of the Year”, the individual is not selected because they “a good person”, it is their “achievements” that are lauded. We are measured on the “fruits of our labor.”We are measured on what is “seen by others.” We are measured on “what others think and feel about us”, quite frankly; we are measured on outside validation.

If you are a good person that is financially challenged, then you may feel you are a failure. You have no achievements to speak of and the nightly news isn’t clamoring for an interview. However, release your anxiety regarding wealth and achievements and know the following to be true: Loving and treating others as you would yourself is the true “dash between the dates.” Thus the reason “Love thy neighbor as thy self” is a commandment.

The riches you acquire, when blessed and favored will not impress you because you expanded “be fruitful and multiply” to mean “with the sharing of my fruit, I help others to multiply their fruit.” The number of accolades doesn’t generate importance because the “important accolade comes from the Father whispering “job well done my faithful servant.”

The “dash between the dates” is twofold. First, you were blessed to be born and while your “date of arrival” may or may not have been ideal, you arrived with a purpose and hopefully that purpose has been discovered or you are diligently searching. Second, the opportunity to create “your dash” is up to you wherever you are on your journey, because it is “never” too late.

When the right side of the ”dates” have been carved on your headstone and you stand before your Creator, you want to be able to say to your Creator “ with all my getting, I got understanding and with that understanding, I demonstrated to myself and to you that “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I kept the faith and more importantly, I did my very best to “Love my neighbor as I did myself” as you commanded so that my “dash between the dates” would have true meaning and you, my Creator, I hope you are pleased.”