Even as I write this, I know with certainty, those that the words are aimed at, will not heed the advice either. I must still write the message, because if I don’t I will continue to suffer from the heavy-heartedness I am weighted down by lately. I simply ask that if you are in the “younger” category, please at least humor me and read this cautionary tale.
When I was in my twenty’s I was married (at 19), and had 2 children. My husband was in college to enter the Ministry and we thought we already lead a life of sacrifice! We sacrificed our time alone together because we had no money, and to give our children what time we did have. We sacrificed a lot of precious family time to work, our church and our goals, and we gave what little time was left to sleep! My husband even gave up a lot of sleep to studying and getting good grades! Don’t get me wrong…I do not say any of this out of regret! It is just a fact, part of our story and journey, and we would not be who we are without those choses. I wish there could have been more balance to life, but we learned though those choses! When we did have family time, we made the most of it and had fun, even with no money! When we had the rare date-night, we tried to really focus on each other and not on how much we were spending! We have now been married for 40 years and while it has rarely been easy, it has been worth all the hard work, the fights, exhaustion, sleeplessness, and major mistakes!
What I wish I had done better…listening to and spending more time with those that have gone before me! I wish I had asked more questions, instead of thinking I already had all the answers! I wish I had spent more quality time with my grandparents, aunt & uncles and parents! I should have focused more on learning where I had come from, what they had gone through, learned through hearing about their own mistakes and trials, and what their dreams had been! Now at almost 60, I know what a strong, resilient and lead by faith heritage I come from, but oh how I wish I knew more! I should have visited more often, stayed longer, listened more intently and should have taken notes! Then again, the younger me was far too self-sufficient and self-absorbed to know to do that.
To those reading this – if you are still young-ish:
· When was the last time you called or visited the older generations in your life?
· How much time do you sacrifice of your all-important life, to stay connected to your families?
· How often do you call your older relatives to simply ask them, “how are you?”
· When you ask a question, do you really listen to the answers, or are you thinking about what you want to say next?
· Have you ever visited someone in a nursing home or other care facilities – how often? Yes, it’s hard and painful to do – but get over yourself and do it anyway! Our seniors or elderly have earned your interest, your time and lots of love, but do not need your pity!
· Are you teaching your children to love, respect and visit older people?
· How much of your own story and where you come from, do you know? If someone younger asks you questions, will you be able to answer?
· Even if you are not blood-related to someone, does not mean their story is not valid for your life! Glean, glean, glean!
To my former self – the young, selfish and much too busy me…
· WAKE UP!
· ASK QUESTIONS AND THEN REALLY LISTEN!
· GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY!
· PUT OTHERS BEFORE YOURSELF!
· VISIT THE ELDERLY WHEREVER THEY ARE!
· SACRIFICE…NOT JUST FOR YOUR OWN GOALS/DREAMS, BUT FOR THE GOOD OF SOMEONE ELSE!
· PAY ATTENTION TO TEACHABLE MOMENTS WITH YOUR CHILDREN!
· LOVE OUTLOUD – DON’T ASSUME OTHERS KNOW HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THEM:
CHERISH THEM!MOST OF ALL…BE THE PERSON THAT 60 YEAR OLD YOU, WOULD WANT Y