Saturday, January 1, 2011

Firebird 400 and Giving Back

So I love the idea that each day we have the opportunity to push the reset button on our lives. We can wake up and tell someone sorry, or thank you, or love you. It is a rare day I don’t reflect on something I wish I would have done differently. At 51, I am also contemplating what will be the takeaway from my life that folks are going to have.

That all being said, the new year is a really cool time to put a plan into place. By now, most of you have been beaten over the head with new year’s resolution information overload. You have been told to trim the eating, go to the gym, buy a new vehicle and give to the charity of your choice ( These are not bad things to do, but sometimes they can be a set-up for a letdown.

A wise old man told me one time, actually I can’t remember if it was a guy and if he was old, but it sounds good -- don’t set giant new year’s goals. Set small goals that are achievable, like, don’t eat a bowl of cereal every night before bed, read a paragraph out of the Bible each day or walk to the end of the street and back once each day, no matter what. When you conquer a small goal and feel successful in achieving that step, you prepare yourself for the next bigger goal.

When I was a teenager, I convinced my then godfather to loan me $1,000 to buy a car. I had found a really cool late ‘60s / early ‘70s Firebird 400. I wish I had that car today; it was the beast. The car was fast as lightening, white with a black interior and if I didn’t have it, the world was going to end. Mr. Fischer, my godfather, had not seen me in who knows how long, maybe since I was born, but I called him. I don’t remember having a job or any reason he would lend me that kind of money, but for reasons I still to this day don’t understand, he did. That was a lot of money in the mid-‘70s.

I got the money, then the car, and it was good times for T.J. I don’t remember going by and showing Mr. Fischer the car or saying thanks. What I remember does not speak well for me; I just ditched him debt and all and went on my way. I had the car a few years and was too irresponsible to care for it. Eventually I sold it and continued on with my lost and self-centered living.

Years later, many years later, the guilt surfaced. It got to a point where I could not continue to ignore the way I treated Mr. Fischer. I made a vow to send him money every month, the same amount, and pay him back. I did just that. Month after month it felt good, really good, to put that check in an envelope and mail it away. Finally I sent the last check and a note to make sure he was OK with it. He sent back the most wonderful letter telling me he was proud of me, that they were struggling and the money was a blessing. Wow.

I am exposing myself quite a bit here telling this story, but it was a new year resolution I made many years back that was doable. It was a huge and wonderful God-honoring, man-honoring, T.J.-honoring resolution from which I gained a lot of pride and heartfelt satisfaction.

I have gone to the gym, saved money, quit smoking, ate healthy and not cussed resolutions in the past. Each one them were met with minimal success. All good things, just not quite time for me to bring them about fully. I do believe in pushing yourself out of the comfort zone, hard work and getting your butt off the couch to accomplish goals, so this is a personal challenge when it boils down to it.

Even the apostles made promises to Jesus right to his face and broke them. “I will never forsake you or deny you,” Peter said. It was just hours later he said three times he did not know that man they called Jesus. Alas, we are forgiven, and Jesus forgave Peter. We all make commitments we can’t keep and promises beyond our ability to fulfill.

Reset is something we should incorporate into our lives daily. We all know it; our heart tells us that. Take something this year and pay it forward, ask forgiveness, walk to the end of the street everyday or begin donating to a worthy cause. By doing something hard, something small, something meaningful or something good, you will not only feel better but it lifts all humanity up a notch and, man, do we need it now. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment