On my way home from coaching basketball yesterday, I was listening to WGN; my favorite talk radio station out of Chicago. I could tell right away that there was something wrong by the somber mood of the speaker. There had been a plane crash. Two small planes collided into each other over a northern suburb of Chicago. What made the story hit close to home was that Bob Collins, the morning show man for WGN, was the pilot of one of the planes and had been killed. (I’m sure that many readers have tuned in “Uncle Bobby” on their car radios in the Midwest.) Later that night, as I made my 40 minute drive to my third shift job, I listened as the station reminisced and paid tribute to a man who was loved by many. They told story after story, describing him as the ultimate friend, and a man who had lived life to the fullest. Genuine love and affection poured in from all over the country. The more I listened about how this man had influenced those around him, the more discouraged I became.
Why you ask?
I was discouraged because I wanted to know why we as a culture, wait until somebody has passed away before we tell them how much we love them? Why do we wait until someone’s ears can’t hear before we let them how much they mean to us? Why do we wait until it is too late before we recall the good qualities of a person? Why do we build someone up after they have gone into eternity? What good does it do then! We share memory after memory, as we laugh, cry, and think back about what was positive in a person’s life. Yes, it does help us cope with the grief of losing someone that was special to us. And yes it does bring those who are coping, closer together. But as we lovingly remember this person, our words fall short of the ears that most needed to hear them.
Just once I would like to see a celebration of life, instead of a gathering of death. A celebration where stories are told, eyes mist over, laughter rings out; and as the speaker concludes his or her loving tribute, the person they are honoring rises from their chair and gives them the biggest bear hug! Wouldn’t that be something! The special person gets to hear the stories and come to the realization that they have made a difference on this earth. And all this is done well before they leave their earthly bodies and go into eternity. And when the inevitable funeral finally comes, we can say good bye with the knowledge that they knew exactly how people felt about them while they were here on earth.
I now have a stronger resolve to tell those around me how much they mean to me. I am going to let my wife know just how loved and appreciated she is, not only by my words, but also by my actions. I am going to play Batman with my four year old more often, and in the middle of our romping, I am going to grab him, hug him tightly, and tell him how thankful I am that he is my son. I am going to sneak into my sleeping toddler’s bedroom, place my lips on his chubby cheek, and thank God for the bundle of joy he has brought into my life. Each day I will make a point to tell both of my boys how much I love them, whether they are four or eighteen! From there, I am going to let family and friends know the tremendous impact they have had on my life. And last but not least, I am going to let the high school players I coach know that I look forward to each and every minute that I get to spend with them in the gym.
Do you love someone? Then tell them! Has someone been an influence in your life? Then give them a call! Has someone made a difference in your life? Then write them a letter or send them an email! Don’t let another day go by without letting that person know. There is something special about a written letter that expresses feelings of love towards another. I don’t know about you, but I have letters and cards from people that I have saved for years, and from time to time, I get them out and reread them. They can turn a depressing day into one where you realize just how blessed and loved you are.
Life is too short to leave kind words unsaid. The words you say, or the letter you write, might just make all the difference in the world.
When my parents were alive, they weren’t well off financially. Yet they helped their two older daughters time after time. My sisters paid Mom and Dad back part of the time, but when Daddy passed away, his cash journal showed debts due from several of his children. I was not among them. I seldom borrowed money and when I did, at the outset I set a repayment plan and stuck to it without being pestered. It was a matter of pride with me.
When you think about how I was raised in the same household with my brothers and sisters and had the same parents, it is hard to figure out why I was the only one who couldn’t stand to owe them—or anyone—money. Maybe it’s because I watched my parents struggle to help out my older sisters when they were in financial straits themselves. Maybe it’s because of that reason I stated above—I was just too proud to depend on anyone else.
These days, I am the one of those other people turn to for help when they need it. Just as I can’t stand to owe other people, I can’t stand to say no to anyone who presents a plausible case of need. So I am what is called an “enabler.”
Being an enabler is an insidious disorder. It starts simply enough when you help someone with an extraordinary expense created by an unusual event. Then when people find out you will provide aid, they ask you more and more and you—being a nice person—just keep giving. It’s a hard cycle to break and I personally have no clue how to escape.
I’m not angry. I’m not holding a grudge. I don’t try to tell my children or my sisters how to run their lives because they ask me for money. Yet I would be so proud of all of them if they would make more of an effort to handle things themselves, perhaps by doing some financial planning—like planning not to spend money they don’t have!
And I don’t see why they can’t do this. After all, I’m not lassoing them and forcing them to take my money. I’m just not good at saying “no.” So I ask you, what can I do about my enabling when so many people around me have no shame in being enabled?
On the other hand, I am doing them a great disservice by my “kindness”. I remember as a child how my father always said these two things, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” and “’I can’t’ got stuck on the fence. ‘I’ll try’ pulled him over.” As an enabler, I have prevented my children from learning to keep trying instead of turning to me for help. Yes, they could change their ways and learn to get along on their own, but why would they do that? Who among us would choose to be out of a car because we can’t afford to fix it when Mom will supply the money to get it fixed.
Yes—I am an enabler; and I am wronging my children by enabling them to be less than self-sufficient. I have known this for a long time but I still can’t say no.
God and Man
Consciousness of God
Is only known by man;
But go ahead, use logic;
Rebuff Him if you can;
But when argument is over,
You will see what must be true—
Were there not a God,
There would also not be you.
By B. Killebrew
What is within …
What is within the depths of my soul …
What is …
What created what is.
What lies without …
What lies in the serenity of a morning
hike through the forest, along side a
mountain stream, slowly and steadily
cascading a bed of mountain stone.
What is mighty and majestic as
the roar and tumble of the ocean’s
tide at storm.
What is as gentle as the touch of the gardener,
tending the rose.
What is …
Gentle, Calm, Mighty,
and Majestic from the depths of my soul
to the world around me…
God is All-Surrounding.
Magnificent, Unfathomable, Astonishing…
His vastness is beyond comprehension…
His mercy unceasing …
By Robin M. Ferguson
Look to This Day!
Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
lie all the verities and realities
of your existence.
is already a dream
is only a vision;
but today, well lived,
makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness,
and every tomorrow
a vision of hope.
from the Sanskrit
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