Though I try my best to remember
Two years ago this morning all my jokes stopped. Hospitalized with septic pancreatitis, I began the three most painful weeks of my life where nothing was funny anymore. The doctors didn’t know if I would live or die. I was pumping more fat through my veins than blood and lived on a morphine/saline diet for two weeks without food or water. I lost 40 pounds and the carefree lifestyle of abusing my body with a fatboy diet rich in carbs and poor in life span. With today’s anniversary looming, I woke up anxious that I might not. But I did, and apparently so did you. You get one body and one lifetime to take care of it. Today, I no longer eat all I want, I’m still smoke free and thank God I’m still about 40 pounds down. And though I have terrible genes onboard fighting against my efforts I’m still working at it because you don’t always wake up from a wake up call, healthy life habits are no joking matter, and you can’t blame your parents for everything.
“Just because it ended poorly doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it.”
For some, it applies to a failed marriage, the product of which produced some really great children. Others might write off a job loss too soon before considering the skills they learned for the next. Still others consider a prison sentence as if it were the end, when in fact for many it’s the very catalyst for a new decision to live better. But nowhere else does this sentence apply better than at the end of life when every last breath exclaims it was totally worth it all.
“Good enough to move on.”
You’d never guess by the looks of my desk that I’m a perfectionist, but in an extra-ordinary sense. Yes, I like to ensure all i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, but in a much more problematic way, I’d come to believe that before embarking on a journey or a project, all steps must be thoroughly anticipated, labeled and planned out or it’s prone to failure, may cause me anxiety and in rare cases, panic, even before taking the first step.
Enter: Psalm 119:105-Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
It’s become a problem. One that has put me in conflict with superiors and project committees and one that sometimes immobilizes me in my personal life to the extent I don’t start projects largely because I either can’t or won’t envision the end.
However, I’m now reminded that when I’m on the path, the Lord has given me a lamp–not a flashlight–to illuminate only my feet and the path a few steps ahead. The very nature of a lamp is that it only illuminates the next step or two, not the distance ahead, and for good reason more than just that they didn’t have flashlights back then.
I now daily embrace the truth that the path I am on is not mine but if I’m doing it right, it belongs to One much greater who knows if I see what lies too far ahead of myself (flashlight) I might see the many obstacles and be reluctant to proceed. A lamp for the few steps ahead is sufficient to keep me moving on. Ergo, my new slogan is
Good enough to move on.
Safer spaces and fonder places proved we made it through.
Recollections of changed directions made adults of me and you.
Waters under our bridges made needed abridges for the people we were destined to be.
Memories serve us so much, of life and its touch, leaving only our legacy.
The older I get, the more my life appears to have been a progression of soap operas:
As The World Turns.
One Life to Live.
All My Children.
The Young & The Restless.
Search for Tomorrow.
Two days at a conference on leadership and I walked away with a personal action plan that will take me six months to put in place. We took our entire team of 19, but none of them noticed what I did. We’ve hired the best of the best people out there, not primarily for their skills but their passions. And because our belief and experience that passion consistently trumps skill in onboarding decisions, we became diverse purely by accident.
98% of those we serve are the poorest of the poor in our community spanning every demographic, and in our business of sheltering, homing, feeding and lifting them from their circumstances into self-sufficiency, meaningful connections with each one is imperative to accomplishment of our mission. We never intended to hire staff who have been homeless themselves, from the LGBTQ community, male, female, black, white, Asian, Hispanic or of any particular faith, but we did–now 19 times over–and many times before.
The social ideal that presumes the practice of hiring to proportionally represent demographically diverse people groups produces the best company results has never guided our staffing decisions. Hiring people whose primary qualification is a passion for hurting people is the factor solely responsible for our accidentally diverse team, because passion for helping unfortunate and underserved others has no race, color, faith or creed.
Of all my conference take-aways to enact in the next several months, ensuring our healing staff comes from every walk of life to connect with any walk of life is not one of them. Passion for and love of the underserved in our community is a team builder that transcends all other reasons for hiring and maintaining the right person for the job. And it can happen purely by accident if you let passion be your guide.
Our conversation about happiness took a wide turn into serendipity.
While sharing what makes us happiest I had an epiphany. All our scenarios were circumstantial, based on fortunate events and experiences that either happened around us, to us, or were otherwise created by us to experience and briefly enjoy. It occurred to me “that’s a lot of work for a fleeting bliss ultimately dependent on the next one.”
Being continuously happy requires effort and exposure to things outside ourselves while being content is a taskless state of peace within our circumstances whatever they are. Happiness is the ! at the end while contentment is the sentence before it we need not work to write, because we just let it fall into place. And we discovered that serendipity is both wondrous, beautiful, and exactly what our dinner conversation that evening had happily become.
Of all life experiences only one remains entirely unknown. Despite relentless attempts at its description from every conceivable perspective, unhinged fantasy, limitless speculation and sordid detail, unchallenged since the beginning of time, we still know nothing more definitive except for the promise that we never will for as long as we live.