I had occasion to speak with someone today. How the conversation began I am not quite sure. But I do know how it ended and it was the subject matter that gave me pause. It caused me to turn my gaze inward and do a bit of self-examination. This individual spoke to me of her husband of many years who had died just 3 months ago. She said he was in good health overall but had a tendency to work far too much. As she spoke, one could tell that her husband was a good man gone too soon. The look in her eyes and the measure of her voice told you that this was so. It started me to thinking about some things. I will share with you two of these thoughts here today.
The first of the two is a bit of a mental snapshot put into words. The thought behind it is succinct and easily entreated. It simply comes down to the old adage we all have heard many times. “Take time to smell the roses.” Those words are very much a truism. Yet so few of us put into practice the message conveyed in those words. We need to, for the sake of our health and our families, learn to slow down and ease up as we go about our day-to-day routines. Our life is but a small series of moments strung together, if we are fortunate. Then we are gone like a breath of wind. I wish to encourage us, you and I to stop and allow ourselves to truly see the world around us, if only for a few minutes each day. The wonders of this world are there to be seen, to be felt. A life directed is indeed important. Just do not become so focused on the map you are holding that you forget to look up and see where it is you are headed. And be sure to notice life’s wonders along the way. Please, I ask of you this one thing. Remember that a rose is a thing of beauty to behold. However, you cannot truly appreciate its beauty until you pause long enough to drink in the fragrance it offers you.
Now I did say that there were two thoughts I wished to share with you this day. The second road, if you will, that my mind traveled down is longer. Or perhaps I simply walked a bit further along that road. But if you will indulge me, I believe this walk to be worth the few extra steps. So, come along with me now. Let us wander down that stretch of road that exists only in the mind. I trust you are wearing your walking shoes. Now, on to the road, that road of reflection. Are you ready?
The first road of thought we had explored here was all about the appreciation of life and our need to put into practice that appreciation. It was telling us the importance of maintaining a balance. A balance of focusing intently on our goals while still enjoying not only the path we are on but also the world along the way. To ignore the need for balance will only serve to make our journey intolerable which is a direct route to failure.
Now this other road we are on presently is also about the appreciation of life. But it also is about the appreciation and recognition of others. It involves something a bit more intangible, a bit more human. Is this a contradiction in terms? Perhaps. I am hoping it makes more sense as we continue our walk together. Let me try to explain………Okay, let us try this and see if it’s a good fit, shall we?
As children growing up, there were certain words that we always longed to hear, needed to hear actually. Those words were ones of encouragement and approval spoken by those we loved and who loved us. Those words were “Well done, my child. Well done.” or a variation of the same. Words such as these were incredibly powerful and played a large part in the molding of our respective characters throughout childhood. The approval of our efforts and actions by our parents and by others were vital to us. The blessing bestowed upon us by these simple words meant more to us than any college degree or job position we could ever obtain. “Well done, my child. Well done.” In actuality, these six words served as a catalyst, helping to build our self-esteem and confidence thus making it possible for us to grow, to stand toe-to-toe with life and exchange blows if need be. These six words made it possible to obtain that college degree or promotion. And yes, because the proper foundation had been laid already, it even gave one the courage to ask that special someone out for the first time! All these things and more could be accomplished because of these small but powerful words. “Well done, my child. Well done.” Those were important words then and equally important now. Perhaps even more so. Yes, I am aware we have left the arena of our childhood. But the new arena we reside in, that of adulthood can be just as difficult and just as fearsome, can’t it? Oh, and when something is true, it is still okay to agree no matter what today’s world says. So, just nod your head to indicate this is correct. Because it is. These six words we keep referring back to carry much importance and influence as we continue to grow in our lives.
Now, you may be reading this and saying, “Not me! I don’t need anyone’s approval to live my life!” If that is your response, then you may want to rethink your position. We are, all of us connected and often times in ways we are not even aware of. It long has been said “No man is an island unto himself.” As true as that was so long ago, it is even more relevant in todays’ world. Consider that for a moment. However, I digress.
My uncle and very good friend had his own version of “Well done, my child. Well done.” He always said “Everyone needs strokes!” Simple, straight and to the point. That was Paul Boyd. I am blessed in my life to have known him. To this day, I can still hear his voice in my mind encouraging me along. And whenever I met with success, he was there saying “Well done, my friend. Well done.” These words serve to propel us forward in the direction of our dreams and goals. All of us, children and adults alike, need encouragement and recognition, even approval at times. We all need strokes! It is a prideful spirit that will make one deny this truth.
I would also add that as we receive encouragement and approval, we are to give it as well. It is absolutely vital to do so. Were you aware that when water flows into a lake, it must be able to flow out somewhere else? If this does not occur, the water will stagnate and everything in that lake will die. Everything must be cyclic in order to live and grow. If you have any doubts concerning this, simply look around you. The laws that dictate our world and the universe are evidenced everywhere. It is impossible to miss. The give and take in life is necessary to sustain such life. In our own lives, part of our purpose here is to be an encourager. It is a privilege really. Our children we are to guide, to nurture and encourage and to offer the words “Well done, my child. well done.” Where loved ones and friends are concerned, we are to do the same and offer the words “Well done, my friend. Well done.” And to your spouse, “Well done, my love. Well done.” Of course, it is up to you to fill in the blank, as it were.
“But wait”, You may say. “Do these words apply to all?” To that I would have to say, “Yes indeed, to all.” Right on down to your dog, cat or any other pet you may have. If anything, our most pure and honest responses would come from our furry and feathered friends. Am I correct? This is due to the fact that they are selfless and loyal. They have no ego to get in the way. I think it safe to say that we could learn much from our pets. Would you agree? Yes,?
And as our respective adult lives wind down into the golden years and beyond, what then? Well, providing that we have given of our hearts, our talents and our minds without the selfish expectation of return, ( Let me clarify here. We are to expect good for our life. But we are to give selflessly) , we will indeed know in our spirit and our heart a certainty. What is that certainty, you may ask? It is simply this – When we pass from here, the place we have known and go to that new place, our home in heaven, God will look at us and He will know. And when He has looked and He knows, we will once again and forever hear those six words that we, all of us, need to hear. “Well done, my child. Well done.”
Authored by William J. Thompson, Jr.