It is beyond my comprehension that another year is coming to a close. Do you remember proudly declaring your age? “I am 6 and a half!” “I am 7 and three-quarters!” I will be a teenager in 642 days!” Back in those days, the years crawled by at a snail’s pace. It seemed like kindergarten would never end! And, what was up with all those naps they made us take?!
After I turned thirteen, I physically typed out “1092, 1091, 1090, 1089,” all the way down to 1. It was my days until I turn 16 countdown “calendar.” You see, when I turned sixteen, I was going to be able to drive and date. My life was going to begin once I had that driver’s license in my hand. My uncle told me “Once you hit sixteen, life flies…” and he was right! Not only could I drive and date at 16, but I could work too.
Sixteen came and went and, before I knew it, I was eighteen and technically an adult – though some of my life decisions did not reflect that fact. One sunny day, my job sent me to another county to file some paperwork; and, while I was at the courthouse, I had a talk with an older gentleman who seemed quite tired. He had clearly been in his job for many years and I wondered why he was not retired. Maybe he needed the money? Maybe he could not stand the thought of being home all day. At any rate, it was clear – this gentleman had some regrets.
While he worked through the papers I brought him, he talked to me about life. He talked about rushing through life. Either he could look at me and tell I needed his lecture or he was caught up in memories of his youth. He talked to me for a while, but I could sum up his entire lecture in one succinct phrase: Do not rush through life.
I wish I could say his warning changed my life. If I had taken his words to heart, how might my life be different now? Seeing a sad, elderly gentlemen discuss his regrets should have given me pause. Something about the experience should have affected my behavior.
It did not then, but maybe it can now. Even at thirty-four-years-old, I catch myself rushing. What is the hurry? There is surely something of value to experience right now.
The elderly gentleman’s mouth told me, “Do not rush through life;” and, now I realize his demeanor was telling me, “Make your life count.”
Do You Want to Be in the 20% or the 80%?
Recently, Eric told me a true story which has been occupying my mind. A graduate of a top Ivy League school attended his 20th year college reunion. While he was there, he walked around and mingled with his former classmates. After talking to several people, he realized that about 80% of them were unhappy and felt like they had wasted their lives.
How is this possible? These people have money. They are successful in business. They are socially adept. How could these people believe they have wasted their lives? After all, did they not get exactly what they wanted?
Then, there was the 20%. The people who had few regrets, and believed their last twenty years had been well spent. What was the difference between the two groups?
The 20% had devoted their professional lives to making others happy (i.e., blessing others). In doing so, they found tremendous fulfillment. Doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, business people, and the roto-rooter men can all do their jobs with the same goal – to make someone else happy.
In one of his video lectures, Dave Ramsey closed his hand and said that if we hold onto our money with a tight fist, nothing can get out of our hand; but, at the same time, nothing else can flow into our hand. The same is true with our time. When we hold our resources tightly, we miss opportunities to bless and be blessed.
Am I a Failure?
A touching scene from my favorite “Christmas” movie, It’s a Wonderful Life comes to mind. George had so many dreams which did not pan out. He felt like a failure for not making “enough” of himself. He dreamed of adventure but never made it out of Bedford Falls. Instead, he devoted his life to helping people buy quality homes they could afford. The pay was lousy and he could not give his family the finer things; but, time and time again he put the good of his community above his needs.
In the end, due to no fault of his own, his company – Bailey Bros. Building and Loan Association – found itself with an $8,000 deficit. Unless something miraculous happened, he was going to jail. As soon as word got out that he was in trouble, all those people he blessed over the years rallied together and raised the $8,000 themselves. No, he did not live all his dreams, but he helped others fulfill their dreams of leaving slum housing and moving into cozy homes of their own; and, when he needed a blessing, they were there to give back.
One of my favorite quotes comes from the very end of this movie, “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.” Likewise, no one is a failure who devotes his or her time to helping others.
The Year of Blessings here at PreEngaged is coming to a close; yet, we can choose to make every year a year full of blessings. We can seek fulfillment within our accomplishments and success, or we can find fulfillment in the blessings we bestow upon the world – one person at a time.
We wish you, your sweetie, and your family a very happy New Year! Lord willing, we will see you in 2017 for another tremendous year! (On Monday, January 2, we will announce our next year’s theme and some changes we are making!)
Keep on blessing no matter what!
Blessings be with you all.
Do you and your sweetie want to live a life devoted to others?