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Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Gift of Disillusionment

My grandfather used to say “A person who will steal for you, will steal from you.”

This entry will hopefully challenge you to evaluate not only the way that you trust, but help you to look past the superficial displays of those close to you and understand how to dig deeper into character before you invest hope in someone. When it comes to relationships, trust is not optional, it’s required – if you want the relationship to be truly successful. The greater question becomes how do you learn who you can really trust and what do you look for to avoid learning the depth of your misguided trust by the gravity of their betrayal?

My grandfather’s quote is a reminder that the evaluation of a person’s character doesn’t begin when the big challenges arise, it begins immediately with every small interaction you have with those around you. In this particular situation, it was one of the crewmen working for my grandfather’s business. He was a very nice guy and had worked for my grandfather for a few years. We had just finished working on an elderly lady’s property when my grandfather noticed an extra lawn mower in the truck. After he inquired a few times of its origin, this crewmen spoke up stating that it had been sitting under the house and the lady probably didn’t even know it was there. It was in very bad shape and though she didn’t verbally say he could have it, he figured she would never use it and he would fix it up for my grandfather to use for his business.

My grandfather returned the mower to the elderly woman with a humble apology and without naming names. When he returned to us, he told the crewman that it was his last day working with him. The crewman tried to explain that his intentions were good; my grandfather just simply stated the quote above. You see, the crewman’s actions made my grandfather question his integrity, his decisions and consider the “what if” factor that turns a reflective moment into an introspective moment. In my grandfather’s wisdom he knew the action was more than just a simple slip-up, it was an indication of the condition of the crewman’s heart that surfaced without provocation. Furthermore, had he accepted the stolen gift, he then was guilty of the same thievery and it has been well said that there is no honor amongst thieves.

Much like the post “Gossiper Beware” from January, we should continually observe the actions of those around us to understand those characteristics that can only be seen by watching what they do, not listening to what they say. Just like love is a verb, so is trust, respect, communication – all of the components of great relationships and whether it’s someone you are dating who disrespects their parent, someone spreading gossip about someone else or a friend that you catch in habitual “little white lies”, keep your eyes open for the signs of their hidden personality, and be realistic about your ability to become a victim of those damaging characteristics. My prayer is that you continually evaluate the company you keep and in those times of question, you seek counsel from the one who loves you most…God. Be Blessed.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Healing Grounds

My grandfather used to say, “Sometimes you just have to give it time to heal.”

This tidbit of wisdom is often shared by the older generation because they have the diploma of wisdom that only comes from life’s institution of learning. Similar to the post “A word to the unwise” from earlier in April, this simple statement reminds us that some lessons in life can only be learned through experience, or the wisdom gained by attention paid to the struggles of others. However, it takes the concept a step further to help us understand how to deal with, not only the pain of life's hurts, but the wounds and scars they cause.

A very important thing to remember is that, like physical pain and scars, emotional pain and scars tend to follow much of the same process to heal. As a man, I often have the tendency to try and speed the process along or try to “fix it”, without truly comprehending that sometimes you have to just…let it heal. We teach kids not to pick at the scabs that cover their wounds, because we know that underneath that shell - healing is taking place - and if you disturb the natural process, you will impede the healing, and potentially create a worse scar. The wisdom in this statement isn’t just for those who get wounded, but those who cause the wounds as well.
Even with the best of intentions, you can do more harm than help, if you do not allow adequate time to heal. The cycle is often perpetuated because we know that hurt people…hurt people.
I penned a poem a few years ago as I dealt with this very issue, I want to share it with you in the hopes that you understand the complex simplicity of my grandfather’s words and apply the lesson as opportunities arise in your life. Be Blessed.

The Healing Grounds

Under a callous, impervious and unsightly shell, the healing takes place.
Like a band aide, created out of pain and irritation, shielding our injury from infection.
At times an unattractive exhibit is the environment of restoration and repair.
A protective covering which requires solitude and tranquility to perform its work.
In the back of my mind I can hear my mother say “just leave it alone.”
Referring to the hideous scab that shelters my irritating wound.
You have to let it remove itself in its own good time, when the healing is done.
Profound wisdom applicable to the many wounds we encounter in life.
Not only the harm that is inflicted to us, but the damage we inflict to others as well.
In any case the process for restoration is the same…slow and delicate.
Time and peace are often healers of the body and the soul.
It’s our own impatience that prevents us from permitting the necessary time to heal."
Usually it is that same impatience that caused us to hurt in the first place.
Why do we attack our own shields, damaging the very device we have put in place
to guard against anything that would impair our ability to regenerate and renew.
If we don’t understand or regard the consequence of an ignorant success,
we will expose our vulnerabilities and impede the progression of recovery.
The absence of wisdom can be the birthplace of scars.
The graffiti of life, vandalism committed by the results of our bad decisions,
it’s our failure to let the wound heal, or our own series of unfortunate events.
When do we learn the lesson, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure?
We should engage in proactive preventive maintenance, versus reactive disaster recovery.
If life’s greatest teacher is experience, then to learn from others’ mistakes is true wisdom.
It’s been said that knowledge is power, but the evidence of life is that only
applied knowledge produces results. Knowledge is not much if no one ever uses it.
Like the ingredients of the grandest dish, time, faith and wisdom work in unison to
create healing and facilitate the therapy that nurses our wounds.
Yet you can only see the whole miracle of rebirth and the power of restoration revealed
When you use the wisdom and patience necessary to let the scab fall away…

Copyright 2005 by William T. Holt

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Price Tag for Life

My grandfather used to say “Life is not about what you gain, but who you touch.”

It was a business trip recently that reminded me of the wisdom at the core of this statement. I traveled to a client site to present the results of an operational study, which would potentially save them $1.7 million in direct and indirect costs over the next year. The presentation went very well and I received accolades from the client and my local business colleagues, but to me it was just…ok. What turned out to be the highlight of that trip was the “Thank You” note that I received a few weeks later. It was from a young lady that I had the opportunity to speak with, during the return flight. We had the length of a plane ride to discuss an extremely difficult relationship she was grappling with, where she struggled to see her value in it, or the strength to leave it.

Apparently, in our brief conversation, something said reached her value core and she was encouraged to make a change in her situation - it turned out to be the best thing for her and her children. I can’t take credit for it, God is the only one who has the ability to free people from those types of situations, but to have a part in helping her increase the value of her situation, far out shined the success and accolades that accompanied my professional endeavor. You see, many people could have gone to that company and used the same facts to save them money. To them maybe I was a good consultant, but who would remember that a year later? However, to this young lady, I may have put her in the mind of the type of person described in the entry “Calling All Heroes” or the "Real Heroes" poem posted the following week from January of this year. No, I don't consider myself anyone's hero, but if you have a moment, read those posts, it will take only a few minutes, but the words speak volumes.

The things that you gain in this world all have one thing in common; they will remain here when you die. Money, cars, houses – none of those things have any real value where it counts, none will remember you and they are not loyal, trust me, they will all find a new owner. But this quote is not just about the “things” of life; it also speaks to the intention of your actions and how you define value while you inhabit this planet. Selfishness is the enemy of humanity, but love is the most valuable and least expensive of human capabilities. Love remains one of the greatest equalizers, it doesn’t matter who you are…you have a wealth of it to share, the question is – do you, even when it doesn’t yield you an immediate return? Albert Pine said it well when he said “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.” So immortality, in this sense, is possible.

Do you want a firsthand example? Well, you are reading one now - my grandfather - he has been gone for more than 20 years and you may have never had the pleasure of meeting him, but if you have been reading this blog and continue to follow my weekly posts, you get to know him through the eyes of someone he truly touched. His body and “things” may be gone, but his legacy of touching the lives of our human community hopefully lives on through his memory in these posts. It warms my heart to see the comments and feedback of readers who say that one of my grandfather’s tidbits of wisdom has helped them in some way; it is my motivation to continue to share them. My prayer for you is that you come to understand the wisdom in these words, and like my grandfather, use the wealth of charity, powered by unselfish love to purchase a “real estate” in the heart of those you touch. Be Blessed.