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How Lucky We Are

O, to be able to walk without concern, to have good vision, to be able to lift things, to throw a ball, or to traverse stairs

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An occurrence two summers ago awakened me to a profound insight. I’m in the airport in Raleigh, North Carolina minutes away from boarding a flight to New York City.

Hopping down the long airport hallway is a young lady with a deeply pained look on her face. She is on crutches, not the kind you often see for a broken leg, the kind that you use with your wrists. This young lady is missing her right leg, not a little, like above the knee, or halfway above the knee. She is missing ALL of her right leg. She is wearing black tights and, it is apparent, her leg has been severed, right across the top.

There But for the Grace of God…

She is too young to have been in the military. Her left leg is toned, athletic, and shapely. You easily can discern that she was some type of athlete – is some type of athlete: in skiing, soccer, possibly track and field. I’m guessing she’s somewhere between age 18 and 20, perhaps 22 at the most.

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She is ‘model’ beautiful, not unlike a young Kim Basinger or Michelle Pfeiffer. The expression on her face tells me that she has not been in this condition long, and has not done a lot of traveling as of late. I sense that this is her first airport trip, alone, since the operation.

While everyone else in the airport ‘manages’ to not notice her, I decide I will look straight at her and smile. As she passes, however, she is forward-focused. She does not see me… or maybe, peripherally she does. Subconsciously, maybe, she receives it – one tiny ray of sunshine in a world of utter despair. While she didn’t appear to notice, I hope perhaps that some minute level of cosmic healing occurred.

The Shock, and the Horror

I surmise that she had bone cancer. I mentally run through what might be the sequence of events: Her leg is very sore, for weeks or perhaps a few months. She and her parents go in for a diagnosis, they’re called back later, and the doctor offers the dreaded diagnosis, she is going to lose her leg. This can’t be accurate. This must be a mistake. Is there no alternative? Finally, she slumps back in her chair, as do her parents, reeling from the shock and the coming horror.

Not only her parents, grandparents, and cousins, but her friends, classmates, teachers, coaches, and anyone in her circle, share in this misfortune. They will know the difference in who she was, her prowess, her silhouette, her very being, before and after. It’s likely that the nature of her relationships with everyone she’s known shifts, subtly or dramatically.

If she’s 22, or less, that likely means 55 years or more of life in this condition. Hereafter, every TV commercial she ever sees about fashions, shaving your legs, hiking, anything that has to do with being bipedal, will be a reminder, as will every time she opens up a woman’s magazine or almost any magazine.

Casual No More

Go on a casual bike ride? No way. Participate in a golf outing? Not a chance. Play miniature golf? Attend dances? Visit the gym? Take a zumba class? Go on a hike? Spend a day at the beach? If she’s going to drive a car, it will require modified rigging. Wherever she lives will have to be carefully configured: The bathtub or shower, everything will have to be logistically correct.

Anytime she buys shoes, it’ll only be to use one shoe. When she buy socks, she gets a two-for-one deal that she’d rather not have. Any pants, shorts, and other clothing all likely will serve as reminders of her condition.

Even if she achieves peace of mind for herself and is mentally and emotionally acclimated to her condition, every time she steps out into the world of 7.7 billion two-legged people, she’ll undoubtedly encounter dozens if not hundreds of others who look away, or look with pity, and don’t know what to say, what to do, or how to respond.

In my 800+ flights, occasionally I’ve seen one-legged military veterans and older people, as you have, with various prosthetics. They are ambulatory, they get around. With the nature of her condition, how are specialists going to fashion any kind of device for her to walk on her own? (Later, I discover that, thankfully, it can be done.)

This particular young lady, being so beautiful, will attract a mate if she doesn’t already have one. Some young man will decide that he will be her life-time champion. She will likely have children and, mercifully, from infancy with their one-legged mom, as they grow-up it will be the family norm.

What about the less attractive one-leggers? Or, young kids who, from an early age, are not able-bodied? What about burn victims… those who underneath it all scream out “see me,” “see the real me,” not just the scar tissue?

The Firefly

At a convention dinner many years ago, a woman sat next to me. She was burned on at least 80% of her body, including all of her face. When she first sat down, I felt a sense of dread. What would I say? Yet, by the end of the meal, I could see her.

She told me her story. She and her fiancé were flying to the Caribbean when their small plane crashed and burst into flames. He died. She lived, but with 80% burns and in rehabilitation for years. I learned that her email address included the word ‘Firefly’ and that today, she is a speaker – a motivational speaker.

…Weeks pass and I recall seeing the young lady in the airport. Does she think back about her earlier life, an existence that will never be the same? Or, more accurately, does she ever not think about it? Going forward, will there be a day in her life when she truly knows peace? At 32, or 42 will conditions be any better for her? Will the world’s fixation on youth and appearance diminish?

When she goes to sleep at night, and lies on that horizontal plane, and finally nods off, does that bring her a sense of peace? Does she dream of running through open meadows or dancing ‘til the wee hours? Even so, she has to arise in the morning, and it all starts again.

This summer, for days on end, after I saw her, I looked at young women and young men everywhere – in shorts, in bathing suits – and thought to myself, you don’t know how lucky you are. Who among us would not be totally humbled? I thought about how lucky I’ve been, and how lucky most of us have been, at least for most of our lives.

Without a Second Thought

O, to be able to walk without concern. To have good vision, to be able to lift things, to throw a ball, to traverse stairs, or to do nearly anything that we seek to do without a second thought. In my entire life, I don’t think I have ever been as mindful as I am right now as to my highly fortunate existence.

In so many respects, we are all lucky.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Faith

Decrease in Marriage Continues a Spiraling Wave of Problems, and Churches are AWOL

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Over 60 years after the decline of marriage began in the 1960s due to the rise of the “free love” mentality, the results are more dismal than ever. In 1960, only 28% of adults were single. Now almost 50% of adults are single. Marriage rates are at their lowest ever in U.S. history. There are eight times more children born to unmarried parents than married. 

 

This is a problem. While progressives love to tear down the traditional nuclear family, they can’t argue with the increasingly negative facts coming out. Cohabitation arrangements break up around five times more frequently than marriages, and unplanned pregnancies occur three times more often with cohabiting couples than married couples. Unmarried couples with children are three times more likely to split up and have lower incomes. Children without fathers are more likely to suffer an “Adverse Family Event,” which is abuse, neglect or other trauma. Disregarding the old saying “Marriage tames men” is why we are seeing a spike in bad behavior by men.

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Two authors with extensive backgrounds in marriage and the Christian church have written a book, Endgame: The Church’s Strategic Move to Save Faith and Family in America, outlining the crisis and showing how the church has failed to address it — but also providing specific solutions to fix it. “Endgame” refers to the crumbling of marriage. 

 

Co-author J.P. De Gance, a Catholic who came from the political sphere working for Americans for Prosperity, pioneered a marriage relationship project called Culture of Freedom — later rebranded as Communio —  which had tremendous results. He launched it in several cities, working with churches and faith-based organizations. In Jacksonville, Florida, which had dismal marriage rates, divorces fell 24% after the three-year project, which focused on 58,912 couples.

 

Similarly, John Van Epp, an evangelical relationship expert, ran his own Christian marriage relationship service, Love Thinks. In one area in Indiana that he focused on, divorce rates dropped 20% over 10 years. 

 

What the authors found is that churches are lacking in marriage ministry. Three out of four churches don’t provide any substantive relationship courses or resources for married couples. And even though singles make up almost 50% of heads of households, more than 90% of churches don’t have an adult singles ministry. 

 

What should be most alarming for Christians is the decline of relationship health is now the most significant factor in disrupting a relationship with Jesus. This is why church attendance is at its lowest rate ever on record in the U.S., 47%. In 2000, it was 70%. Church attendance is largely determined by one variable — parental marriage. Both children with unmarried parents and divorced parents were equally less likely to attend church.

 

Marriage crumbled because of the decoupling of sex, romantic partnerships and parenting. Today, the majority of couples have sex before starting a relationship. The authors point to online dating as one of the culprits — it’s made it easy to leave a relationship the instant a problem arises, because you can find a new romantic interest right away.

 

They found a correlation between atheism and lack of married parents. Millennials who were the least emotionally interested in attending church were also the least likely to report having a positive relationship with their parents. The 30 most well-known atheists in the world had a defective relationship with their fathers. 

 

Progressives may pretend that Christians are no better off than the rest of the population, but the authors found that churchgoing Christians have sex more frequently and are happier in their sex life than those who don’t attend. While one quarter of couples in church have a struggling marriage, 39% of couples in general do. 

 

Unfortunately, pastors don’t realize they’re not doing a good job in this area. While 93% of pastors counsel couples in crisis, 57% of them do not believe they are qualified enough. A “marriage 911” is lacking in the church. Churches spend lots of money on youth programs, but that’s not helping people stay in church. 

 

The authors say we need to go out into the community to find couples to help, not expect them to come searching and find these services. It needs to be portrayed as something everyone needs, in order not to scare people away thinking it’s only for couples who are on the verge of breaking up, otherwise people will be afraid of the stigma.

 

The authors reveal what works as successful techniques. They teach couples to address problems early on in relationships. It’s a myth that good relationships don’t require work. The “balanced relationship” is an illusion. What is normal in a good relationship is this: About the time a couple feels that they have a routine that is working for them … life comes at them fast. One of the most valuable tasks the authors have couples do is to make a top 10 list of what they think their spouse wants and needs from them.

 

Emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient (EQ) is key to a good marriage. This means both interpersonal, which includes communicating with your spouse, and intrapersonal, the ability to monitor your own emotions and actions. Studies of people doing tasks who have somewhat higher EQs but also somewhat lower IQs than others reveal that the former perform better, shattering our traditional views of IQ. 

 

The authors also emphasize the importance of both skills and virtues. Secular counseling focuses on skills, whereas Christian counseling tends to focus too much on just virtues. Skills include discernment, appreciation and expectation, self-control and commitment. 

 

The authors conclude by saying the church needs to make marriage ministry and relationship outreach normal. Marital problems shouldn’t be left up to social agencies to handle. The secular world is going to continue to disparage marriage and continue the downward cycle that the misnamed, so-called “free love” brings, so the church has to step up and stop the leak in the dam. 

 

 

  

 

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Faith

Seek Out the Good in Others

If you try, you can find at least one thing admirable in everyone you meet.

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Will Rogers, a political satirist, entertainer, and beloved figure in the first half of the twentieth century allegedly said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Many people have interpreted Will Rogers to have meant that he could find something admirable in everyone he met. So, too, can we all.

Something Admirable

Is there a co-worker with whom you have had a nasty relationship? Is there something good about this co-worker that you can draw upon, so that you can actually say something nice to him/her at your next encounter?

Is there a neighbor with whom you have had a continuing squabble? What would it do to your relationship if you sent your neighbor a card or a brief note that said something along the lines of, “I noticed how lovely your garden was the other day and wanted to let you know that I appreciate the work you’ve done in maintaining it.” Too syrupy, or, pardon the expression, too flowery?  Guess again.

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You’re on this planet for finite amount of time. Do you want to go through your life trading hostilities with people, never having the where-with-all to restore some semblance of civility to the relationship?

Finding the Good

Try thinking of and listing five people who you may not have a good relationship with but can acknowledge. Next to each person’s name, write what is good about them. Do they maintain a nice garden? Here are some ideas for you in case you’re drawing a blank. This person…

* Is kind to the receptionist at work.
* Turns assignments in on time, and hence, supports the team.
* Walks softly past your office, so as not to disturb you.
* Greets you in the morning when you arrive.
* Maintains his or her office well.

Away from work, here are some ideas for finding the good in others:
* Keeps the street in front of the yard free of debris.
* Is respectful of others’ needs for quiet.
* Dresses well.
* Has well-behaved children.
* Drives safely in the neighborhood.

If you try, you’ll find something good!

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