Wednesday, August 15, 2012

P4E.248 What Lasts?

My wife, Gwen, has a way of getting to the heart of matters. She has always advocated people over things. She has always valued relationships over stuff. It has not always been so clear for me. But, with her help, my mind and values have become more and more clear.

From time to time, you hear people say things like, "When men die, they don't wish that they had spent more time at work." Meaning, that dying men usually wish they'd spent more time with their family. But, it doesn't seem to bother us living men too much. We still act as though we value work more than family.

So, what should we value? What has lasting value? What should we be devoting our time, energy, and resources to? I'm not going to dismiss work out of hand. If you have a job that you are truly passionate about, that produces something of lasting value that impacts many lives, then your work does count. But, this is a very relative and subjective discussion. For instance, a person could be very passionate about counterfeiting money. That could affect a lot of people's lives!

Relationships have lasting value, because they are spiritual.  Every physical thing that we can sense around us will pass away. Everything. But, our spirits are eternal. Memories have lasting value. Impressions about character, or lack thereof, have lasting value. Traditions, and stories and anecdotes and quotes and music and art and poetry have lasting value. The things that affect our senses and our spirits stick with us. I can remember that Gwen used to wear a strawberry lip gloss when we were young. The fragrance of that strawberry lip gloss has left an indelible mark in my memory. Every time I smell something like it, I'm transported back to those days.

Since this blog is directed towards men who are interested in bettering their marriages, I'll be plain. The way that we handle ourselves around our wives and children leaves a lasting impression on them. When we have explosive, emotional, interactions with them damage occurs. Brains cells are rearranged. Memories are made. Character is established. Spirits are crushed. Stories will be told. I have an acquaintance who's abusive step-father lived in a trailer and kept an electric coffeemaker on continuously. To this day, the smell of burned coffee makes her physically ill. She wishes she could forget.

But, kindnesses are also remembered. Acts of love, acts of help, acts of compassion all create lasting memories. A patient, joyful, kind, gentle, helpful, faithful man will be long remembered. His memory will be passed on in a verbal tradition by his wife and children, co-workers and friends. His spirit will live.

The choice really is ours. Our words will last. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." How will we be remembered? What verbal traditions will be passed on about us? What will be the lasting impression that we leave? What stories will be told? Will those close to us be haunted by or cherish the memories that we create with them? We choose.

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