This is the text of my sister’s upcoming contest as a Toastmaster. The message, as you will read, is ‘powerful’, and I wanted to share it with you.
The Rev. Billy Graham was recently asked: “Sir, what about this life has surprised you the most”? His reply? “Its brevity” A short time ago, I was a 17 year-old high school senior. Now I am a 60 year-old social security senior. I love being 60. You see when I was in my late teens and early 30’s all I did was get married and divorced, married and divorced, and married yet again. In my thirties, and early 40’s all I did was work. I worked 50 and 60-hour weeks so I could buy stuff. Big stuff, little stuff, new stuff old stuff. Your stuff. My credit cards had skid marks and their own zip codes. Then on Jan 4 1998, my life as I knew it ceased to exist. My husband of 20 years, the absolute love of my life, the man I was supposed to grow old with, died of a sudden heart attack. One minute he was on the racquetball court, and the next he was in the arms of Jesus.
Well meaning friends would often tell me. “Debby you are lucky, at least he didn’t suffer”. No, he didn’t suffer; he left that for me to do. And suffer I did. Shortly after Larry died, I was in the hospital having major surgery. Three weeks later my only surviving grandparent died. Me? Back to the hospital, this time with carpel tunnel surgery. The wind came along and blew the shingles off of my roof, my downstairs flooded, and the transmission fell out of my pick-up. All this happened by August of that year. Oh, I suffered! I felt like the psalmist David when he cried out:” Hear me oh Lord. Hear me Oh Lord and deliver me.” I spent days on my knees because I had nowhere else to go.
When at last I began to emerge from that deep abyss, I realized something; I had spent the past 47 years living in fear. You know that fear. That “False Evidence Appearing Real”. You see, I had always had all that I wanted and all that I needed. Fear kept me from putting it together. When I was busy getting married, all I wanted was to have a good marriage…All I needed was to be a better partner. During my buying frenzy, I already had all I wanted; all I needed was to respect my possessions. When my husband died, all I wanted was for the pain to end. All I needed was to accept that my life had changed forever. Acceptance is the key to all of my problems. For when I am disturbed, it is because I cannot accept some person, place, or situation and I will find no peace until I accept that person, place, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be, because nothing — absolutely nothing — happens in God’s world by mistake. What fear is keeping you from where you want to be? The fear: “I’m too old… I’m not smart enough… I’ve never done that before?” All lies to keep you from doing, being, having. Pitiful or Powerful. We can be pitiful and live in fear, or we can be powerful and live our dreams.
Yes, the Rev. Graham was right, life is short. Yesterday I was 20, this morning 45, and now I’m 60. Yes, my hips are wider, but so is my smile. Things that used to be up here are now down here but that’s just gravity, so who cares? I don’t because I am living my dreams. Since 2000, I have been parasailing in Thailand and salmon fishing in Alaska. I have ridden the roller coaster atop the Stratus Sphere in Las Vegas, Nevada, and have rejoiced in the birth of my great-granddaughter.
Pitiful or powerful? Release your fears. Live your dreams.