Lessons I Learned My 39th Year on Earth

Lesson 7:  The illusion of happiness and happiness are not the same

Have you ever noticed how fantastic everyone’s life seems on social media?  I think we can all agree that some days, it’s hard to stomach.  I can’t decide whether my life actually sucks, or whether I just don’t have enough time on my hands to properly “promote” everything.  Regardless, I attended a charity luncheon for the station this week, and right there over a plate of chicken cordon bleu… I got a reminder of what true happiness looks like.

First, let me back up and explain how I ended up at this shin dig.  A couple of weeks ago, my boss invited me to the Community Foundation’s Humanitarian Award Luncheon.  Initially, I thought, “Oh great!  Just one more thing to add to my over-stuffed calendar!”  (Incidentally, this is how we humans miss opportunities to experience joy.  We’re too busy!!!!!)

This year’s honorees were Vince Gill and Amy Grant, which was no small surprise.  What DON’T they do for the community?  As it turns out, almost there’s almost nothing they aren’t involved in!  By the end of the program, I was sobbing.  It blew my mind how many lives they’ve changed, and I couldn’t help but feel guilty about all the opportunities I pass up on a regular basis.  When it comes down to it, most of us are pretty self-absorbed, including me.

Not only have Vince and Amy changed lives locally, they’ve literally altered lives across the globe.  I venture to say… they perform more charity work/community service than I have in 40 years combined.  At one point they were making such profound statements about life that I started jotting them down on a napkin, so I could share them.

In lieu of presenting the couple with a plaque or award that would sit on a shelf and collect dust… they were presented with a quilt, to which Amy said, “I always felt like quilting was the original recycling, and just such a picture of all of our lives.  You know, how we all get torn apart, and put back together.  It’s always more beautiful and ALWAYS endlessly more interesting… when it’s put back together.”  No truer words were ever spoken.  No matter our station in life, there are moments in them that produce excruciating pain.  As difficult as it seems in the moment, we should view them as part of what produces the unique quilt that is uniquely ours.

When it was Vince’s turn at the mic, he said this about his wife, “She inspires me to be better… be a better person.  I couldn’t ask for a better partner to show me and teach what the art of giving really looks like.”  This statement reminded me how important it is to surround ourselves with people of strong character who make you want to be a better person.  If the people in your life aren’t making you better, there’s a pretty decent chance they’re doing the opposite.

Vince also read the words to a song he recently wrote for Amy called “The Red Words”… a reference to the words in the Bible spoken by Jesus.  These are just a few of the lines I jotted down for thought.

“She’d take a bullet for her children.  She’d give them all her last breath.  Always there and always willing as a mother’s love never rests.”

“I know that black’s her favorite color because without it there’s no depth.”

“Show some kindness for a stranger.  And be grateful for today.  Open up your family bible and read what the red words say.”

Though all of those lines were great, my favorite was the one about the color black.  Other than my go to LBD, I’ve never really given much thought to the color black.  In fact, if anything, I usually associate it with darkness… something I’m not particularly fond of.  As I thought more about it though, I realized what Amy sees in black.  Without darkness, there is no light.  Without sorrow, there is no joy.

There was one last statement that I loved, and I hope it gives you all some food for thought.  Amy said, “Your focus in life comes from a combination of your passion and your pain.”  The person who can find that focus is someone who is truly happy indeed.  Have a great weekend!

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3 Responses

  1. Last Sunday my wife passed away, peacefully in her sleep. We had been separated for over a year, but were still close friends and fishing buddies. Wednesday, at her memorial service, I walked outside and there was a cross in the sky over the cemetery, and I was comforted to know that she was in a better place and no longer suffering. I know that the cross was just the contrails of two airplanes crossing paths, but I can’t help but believe that it was a sign to the family that everything was going to be okay.
    I took a picture and posted it on my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150439523764328&set=a.491504649327.294407.675209327&type=1&ref=nf

  2. Thank you, Jennifer

  3. I sometimes get down due to being out of work for over 7 months but I am continually reminded that I have two great kids and a wonderful family that supports me and encourages me. There are a lot of people in worse shape than I am and blogs like yours help me to remember that. Thank you Jennifer!

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