So many things have happened this weekend that I have had little time to step back and evaluate or even attempt to make sense of what has transpired. But there are a few things that have popped into my head that have prompted this post and I would like to share them with you because they are weighing heavily on my mind.
1. Be grateful – Often in life we become so wrapped up in the day-to-day and the mundane that we tend to forget to be grateful for the things that we have right here and now. I’m always grateful for what I have, but sometimes you’re faced with adversity and you’re forced to make a choice – 1) blame the world, God or whomever, or 2) be grateful. Today, I am grateful that I was born to parents who loved me and my siblings with every ounce of love they had to give. I am grateful for my wife and my sons who picked up right where my parents left off and have never asked me for anything in return. I am sincerely grateful for every person who, through the years, has ever shown me or any member of the Matua clan even an ounce of kindness or love (there are so many of you). You all have inspired us to be better human beings and your kindness and sacrifice has never gone unnoticed.
2) Take a stand – For six months now I have been wearing a band around my wrist that reminds me constantly, to do something that for many years has been a struggle for me and that is “take a stand.” In today’s volatile political climate and in an overall general sense of being, it is hard to stand up for a belief, an opinion, an idea. It requires a lot of courage to take a stand. In my life I regret that I was a coward when I should have stood firm for what I believe in. Being a father has emboldened me and the external motivation of being an example to my sons has given me the fortitude and backbone that I once lacked to do what is right all the time and not just when it is convenient. I challenge you all to take a similar stance if you aren’t or haven’t already.
3) Make a difference – The second statement on that same bracelet challenges me to do yet another thing that I have always wanted to be and do and have missed the mark on many occasions. When I was asked as a kid what I wanted to be when I grow up my response was simple, “I want to be a millionaire.” Kids say the funniest things. But my wishes and premonition have actually come true; I just didn’t realize then that I would be blessed a million times upon a million more times it just would be paid out in ‘happiness currency’ not in actual money. And because I have so many millions of things to be grateful for, I want to be a blessing to others in any way that I can be and that is why I volunteer a lot of my time to help youths. I don’t do it for money (hence the word ‘volunteer – besides who is going to pay ME for my advice?). I don’t do it for fame (I know of a handful of guys who are famous volunteers but they were never in youth sports or church groups). I do it because I love seeing the light bulb click on in a kids eyes when he finally ‘gets it’ and learns something new. I love teaching them something that holds value and those things are not tangible but they are still very life changing. I may never make the same impact that other’s have made in the world, but if I can help one kid be a better person than I have made a difference that affects generations.
4) Cherish – Life changing moments happen all the time. Some of those moments are good but a lot of those moments are bad. Cherish, revel and learn from all of them. Treasure your relationships and nurture them knowing that you have a very small window of opportunity to enjoy tender, precious moments in life with those whom you love. This weekend I got to spend some very memorable moments with my family. We have an opportunity each day to show, share and cherish tiny life ‘wins’ with them before they are gone. Don’t let petty grievances, disagreements, grudges or misunderstandings build walls of animosity and hostility between you and others. Let humility and love be the things that define you most and I guarantee you that all of your relationships will be wholesome and worthwhile.
5) Say it – If you haven’t said the words, “I love you” to someone today you have wasted another day that you could have used to bring happiness and warmth into someones life. I had the false belief that saying those words too often would cheapen and devalue the sentiment. I was wrong. Those words are only frivolous if you don’t mean it. But when said with truth and conviction, they are words that can impact and affect a person more than any other words that can be uttered. After the events of this weekend, these words have such a deeper meaning than ever before.
My challenge to you if you’re reading this blog entry, is for you to take a moment right now, to first, take a deep breath and take these same steps as I have done myself over the last 48-hours. I know now what you will know when you have completed this exercise – that it is liberating and absolutely life-changing. Try it and let me know how you feel when you are done. You will not be disappointed.