It has been nearly a year since I took the final leap…After 30 years of work as a Speech-Language Therapist/Pathologist, I finally did it: I took my retirement.
I spent the last few days leading up to my retirement cleaning out my office. It’s amazing how much stuff you can accumulate over the years. Mostly it was just clearing out papers that I should have never hung on to in the first place, but every once in a while, I came across something of sentimental value.
First there were my diplomas, those little pieces of paper representing my educational accomplishments and my certification in the field of Speech-Language Pathology/Therapy. All important papers if I wanted to continue to practice…
There were also certificates for things I had supposedly excelled at, courses I had taken, even a plaque that was presented to me and my team a few years back for our professionalism and our transdisciplinary approach to treatment.
In another file were the notes from the many presentations I had made over the years: The courses I had taught, the inservices I had conducted, etc.
My human resources file contained my resume and all the accomplishments I had done in my career. It also had my performance appraisals, and hidden beneath it all was a letter I had received from the CEO of our hospital, passing on words of personal thanks for having represented the hospital well.
Tucked away in the back of the filing drawer were a stash of thank you cards, given to me by patients I had helped and by students I had mentored over the years…
The list could go on and on, but the question at hand was this: What to do with them?
As I thought about the different things that were stashed away in my office, I began to realize something vitally important: Most of these things were of no value to me whatsoever!
Oh, it was nice to have had the acclaim of receiving awards and plaques; but who cared about this in the long run? I mean, the hospital where I worked had shut down the program I had built and run for over 20 years, and no one even remembered it had ever been a vital part of the rehabilitation program…
And the master files on all the workshops and inservices I had presented at over the years…so many hours had gone into those presentations; yet no one even remembered I had even done them.
It was the same with the master binder of materials and the CD, and it was also the same with the Human Resources file. I could find absolutely nothing in any of these that mattered any more.
I took all these things and put them in a towering stack on my worktable. I would throw them out later that day.
The stash of thank you cards was somehow different. Some were from patients who I know I had helped to communicate better. I was smiling as I placed these in a different stack: “Keepers”!
Then there were the thank you cards from former student interns I had mentored. As I reread each of these, I felt happy, for they represented that I hadn’t just taught them skills in Speech-Language Pathology/Therapy, but I had succeeded in instilling in them a sense of self-worth, confidence in their abilities, and new-found faith in God. I added them to the “Keepers” stack.
Then I turned to the memory book I had been given by my staff, and as I read through the notes, tears began to stream down my face. Especially the ones thanking me for my prayers and words of encouragement in the difficult times of their lives. Yup, that was definitely a “keeper” as well…
That’s when I realized something vitally important: The things I had done that had resulted in personal accomplishments and gain meant nothing to me. It was only the things I had done under the guidance of God’s Spirit, the things that had touched lives and shown a tiny picture of God, it was only these things that meant anything at all to me…
At the end of his life, the world’s wisest man said, “‘Everything is meaningless,’ says the Teacher, ‘completely meaningless.'” (Eccl. 12:8).
So true. And in the end of time, we are told: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared.” (Rev. 21:1 NLT). Everything. All of our human accomplishments. All gone. No one remembers them. All the old has disappeared.
Is it for nothing that Solomon finished the book of Ecclesiastes with these words: “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.” (Eccl. 12:13 NLT)?
The apostle Paul also had some pearls of wisdom to shed on this subject: “So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him…Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others.” (2 Cor. 5:9,11 NLT
Oh God, why is the stack of “keepers” so much smaller than the stack to be thrown out?
It’s this lesson I plan on carrying into my retirement: Only what’s done for God will last!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.