Weddings and funerals are signature bookend events. One demonstrates a commitment that goes beyond one’s self, and the other tells the tale of a life and how it was lived. Last week, as I sat in Ruben Cardenas’s funeral, I was reminded about one of Ruben’s life focuses on making an investment and impact in our community. He instilled the same message in his children, Dr. Carlos Cardenas, Oscar Cardenas, and Diana Albrecht. Each echoes that same DNA that was so important to their father and his life.
Ruben Cardenas was the McAllen Chamber’s longest-serving volunteer – 59 years (a record that will never be broken). Ruben could be direct, blunt, and forceful, but he was committed to making McAllen world class. As I sat there, I began to reflect on how a person can genuinely measure their effort and impact. Moreover, my thoughts turn to the two most significant events in a person’s life, their wedding, and their funeral. Both those events encapsulate the essence and true purpose of life.
Weddings. We are losing something in our culture around commitment and being “all in.” We think and make and have “plan B,” and, in some cases, even a “plan C.” We never fully commit and are afraid of the sacrifices that would be required of us to make something work. What I like about weddings is that it is a public statement to friends, family, and God, that you are making a commitment to a person – and you are all in.
You are saying publicly for everyone to hear that you are going to put someone else ahead of your desires, goals, dreams, and ambitions. It is a bold statement; a statement that sometimes I think is taken too lightly. A wedding is a commitment to the success of someone else besides ourselves. At a wedding, you get a glimpse of the start of the real success story of someone telling the world they are “all in” for another person.
Funerals. There is no better way to reflect on life’s journey than at the end. The startling fact is that your legacy is already written. If your life came to an abrupt end, what would your legacy be? What would your friends and family say about you at your funeral? If you don’t like what might be said or what might never be told, you still have time to change the story of your life.
Investing in others, giving, and helping other people be successful, is the cornerstone of a successful life. Living a life of grace, humility, and seeking to soothe the hurt and traumas of life are vital fundamental aspirations of a life well-lived.
The victorious life is not about you or your goals or desires. It is about how you impact people around you and even strangers that may never know you, but were touched by something you did far beyond yourself. Too many times, we crawl into “our shell of the world” and think we are making a difference, and yet we touch and move no one.
Weddings and funerals are great reminders of a big commitment and a legacy. Ruben Cardenas made both, what will yours be?