We Need Your Dash

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

What is a dash? This was a question I asked my team at my business as we kicked off 2021. The answers, of course, varied from person to person. A dash can be a punctuation mark. A dash can be a run or a race. According to Merriam Webster, dash can mean to smash or break something by striking it. There are many more definitions of the word “dash”, but we were discussing one dash in particular–the dash between two dates.

I have never done a “deep dive” into the genesis of the dash representing the time between two moments in time, but seems to be universally used. If you look at a tombstone anywhere in the world, you will almost always see the same three markings–the date when the person was born, the date when they passed away, and a dash to represent the time in between. This is not unique to tombstones–“the dash” can be found almost anytime someone discusses a particular period of time. Interestingly, our eyes normally focus on the two numbers and not the dash in between. However, is it not the dash, no matter how short, that gives the numbers their significance?

This is what I encouraged our team to consider and have, in turn, been considering myself. The reality is from January 2021 to January 2022, I will have a dash. There is no guarantee how long it will be, but whether I am aware of it or not, the “–” will be there. The question is not if I will have a dash but rather whether or not I will make it count. Will I choose to just exist, or will I make the most of the “dash” I have been given? Will I look back and say I gave it my all, or will I wonder what could have been if I had taken my life off “auto-pilot”? There is a lot we do not get to choose about our “dash”, but we do get to decide how we will live it.

This is not just true of the next year, of course. This also applies to the “dash” that represents our life. We, myself included, spend so much of our time trying to extend our dash, but is it really the length of the dash that makes it significant? It is the way we have lived our lives and loved others that brings significance to our dash, not the amount of time we were able to squeeze out of it. This is not to say living a long life is not significant. However, some of the shortest dashes have had incredible impact on my life because of the the way their lives rippled through the lives of others. Jesus only lived on this earth for 33 years, but his “dash” had changed the world.

Speaking of Jesus, he said he came that, “we might have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) This is what it means to make our dash count. We were created on purpose and with a purpose by a God who desires us to thrive. This does not mean life will always be fun or easy–we live in a very broken world. What it does mean is we have the opportunity each day to live as though our lives matter, because they do. Let me repeat, YOUR LIFE MATTERS! YOU MATTER! Maybe you have not been “making your dash count” because you are not even sure it is possible. This is a lie. You were created uniquely to have a unique impact on this world. No matter how small or big, the impact you have on this world is significant.

As we start a new year, it is time we all choose to make our dash count because they truly do. Only you can live the life for which you were created. Only you can have the impact on this world for which you were uniquely designed. Only you can make your dash count.

James Belt

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