Wednesday, October 19, 2005

All You Have Is Today…

Those five words hit me like a brick. Sometimes you hear something over and over again but don’t really hear it until the right voice says it. Part of the thousand plus miles I’ve traveled in the past week took me to Georgia, again. Instead of keeping Hampton Inn in business I stayed with my cousin Jennie. Everybody needs a Jennie in their life.

You ever had anybody who loved you not matter what? Loved you even though you weren’t perfect, in fact loved that you weren’t? Somebody who was always on your side, knew all your trash and acted like a cheerleader no matter what? That is Jennie. We were discussing failures and flaws, sins and shortcomings, life, loosing and love. Most of all we talked about regrets and mistakes. Essentially what happens when you are so focused on your past problems that they are keeping you from living today, and then she said those words, “all you have is today.”

You see, Jennie is my hero. Several years ago she almost died from a severe attack of Crones disease. She spent most of the holiday season, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, in the hospital. She said she remembered praying, “don’t let me die in front of my daughter, don’t let me go until my husband is spiritually strong enough to raise my baby…” Wow, that is the prayer of a mother isn’t it? She survived but still deals with Crones every day and will for the rest of her life. It is terminal, it never goes away.

When somebody with a terminal illness tells you something about living life, I have learned, it is best to sit up and listen. Jennie lives each day like it will be her last. She and Jeff are people of modest means, living in a small, rural town in north Georgia. They don’t have expensive cars or lavish luxuries; there is an above ground pool, sometimes the next door neighbor’s chickens wander into their yard and the big deck that they call the “Redneck Riviera.” But no one on earth is richer than Jennie. She knows a lot about living and a lot about dying.

She told me that day that to live always worrying about what others are thinking is like not living at all. God gives us a new day, every day, to make up for the messes we made of yesterday. Then she said, “You can only live today.” It is not that you are exonerated from yesterday, but that living only happens in the present, you have to seize joy at every chance. Regret, according to Jennie, is the demon that steals today’s joy and tomorrow’s happiness.

Paul wrote to “run the race set before you…” Read that again when you have a chance. The only race you can run is the one you are in today. John Maxwell says we exaggerate the past, overestimate the future and undervalue today. I can’t go back and change my regrets, decisions or failures. I can only learn from them, make course corrections and do my best to live today. Thankfully, I remain:

Lost in Grace,

Marty

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