When I was in college, (or when I was supposed to be in college) I used to tell my buds that I would be lucky to make it to 40 with what we put our bodies through night after night. I made a bet with Abe, my good friend’s dad. He said he was going to live longer than me. I thought he was nuts, kind of.
I am still here! I know why. I have a purpose. There is a plan.
This week I was reminded that life is in the journey, not the prize I was seeking as a result. I realized I started getting back into bad habits by thinking and stressing about tomorrow.
Then, the switch flipped. I started to remember how great every day was when I was living in the moment. I woke up the next day and started over.
You can’t worry about tomorrow. Stress is a killer. That is probably the reason that deep down I am surprised I made it to my 40s. Deep down I wasn’t going to be surprised if Abe won the bet. I put my body through a lot of stress from age 18-40something.
Live each day like it is your last. All it takes is consistent prayer and faith. Then, sit back and watch God work in your life.
Read my blog if you want to see what it has done for me.
Happy to be alive!
Son, here is what has happened since a little over a week ago when I told you I was done writing my advice for you. First off, I had been looking forward to Father’s Day weekend for weeks. It was fun but I was a dud, my mind was elsewhere. I missed 2 days of work last week, and I skipped going to church on Sunday. I went almost a full day before praying, and I started to feel stressed and unsure of what I was supposed to do.
Maybe the change I thought I needed was wrong. Maybe I am just not ready for that next step. Maybe I just needed a week away doing nothing to realize I can’t stop my current mission, or I risk going back to my old ways.
It is time to get myself back on track and see what happens. It’s time to get back to just opening myself up and being patient with God’s plan for me. I spent my entire day off yesterday playing online poker and watching back to back hobbit movies. I didn’t do one thing to help myself, you, or others. The idea I had about taking it to the next level I believe will happen someday, but it sure doesn’t feel like it is this day.
I couldn’t think of one thing to write about all last week. However, last night when I was 5 minutes in to watching the sermon I missed last Sunday, I had to pause it to write this. This is no joke son, God is so powerful! I know I need to be “all in” to receive the help and inspiration he gives me.
I felt like a loser all week. I have to do whatever I can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. It starts with church today. Let’s see how this week goes.
I love you more than anything son!
P.S. This may all sound familiar, but notice one important difference: It’s only been a week, not several weeks, months, or years.
Son, I am so lucky we didn’t have the technology there is today when I was young. Had there been video of the things I said and did when I was a young man, people would have been extremely disappointed in me. This is why I am also very grateful I did not have the success I wanted at a young age. Just like the Biebs, most of us have said things we shouldn’t have when we were young. Although this is no excuse for his words or behavior, we must look at ourselves first. Have any of us led the perfect mistake-free life? Are we the ones who should be judging others?
To pull out a video 5 years old seems a little much. Although I think he is still immature, I imagine he was much more so 5 years ago. Son, remember it is not about how you start off, but how you finish. As much as Justin and I would like to change things from our past, we can’t. The only thing you can have control of is right now.
Let’s give the kid a break. Take a look at yourself first, and don’t judge others. If you disagree with someone’s behavior or what you see on TV, just tune it out.
Although being young is not an excuse to behave inappropriately or go against God’s wishes, it is the most likely time the pressures to do so will be there. This is why I am trying so hard to help teach you how to avoid it.
Love you son,
1 Timothy 4:12
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
Son, lying comes natural to all of us; it doesn’t have to be taught or learned by watching others do it. If you take most 2 year olds and ask them if they were the ones who did something bad, they deny it, even when the proof is staring right at them. We are all born with the capacity to lie; it is much easier than telling the truth a lot of times. I must have been born with a double dose; I was the best at it. I would lie when I was younger, but eventually the truth would come out. As I got older I could lie and cover it up so well that I believed it in my own head. I had lies that no one would ever know about.
There are still lies that I have not admitted to yet, stupid ones that I know would be ok if I owned up to them now, but it is still hard. Lies end up snowballing and getting bigger and bigger as time goes by. They can get so big; that the original reason you lied is pale in comparison to the hole you dug yourself into keeping up with the lie. I was so good at it, I didn’t have many snowball on me. However, I felt it inside. The guilt became unbearable. In essence the guilt got bigger and bigger until I could barely live with myself. I got mad at others for questioning my lies. I resented anyone who would call me on my bluff. I would tell myself I would prove it to them by never ever owning up to it. The guilt over some stupid little mistake I made overwhelmed me. I became defensive. I became miserable. Had I just owned up to my mistake in the first place things would have been much better. I believe this is one of the many ways God tries to teach us a lesson.
Now, it wasn’t like I was hiding the fact I murdered someone or cheated on a loved one. Still, after years of hiding it and trying to remember which story I told which person, it became exhausting. Because I believe in God and his awesome power to know exactly what I was doing, I felt the guilt deep inside. I felt like a fake. I would have people ask me about things and would struggle to remember because what I told them wasn’t true. The truth is ALWAYS easy to remember.
No matter how mad you think I will be with you, please tell me the truth. I will be more upset that you lied than I will be at whatever you are trying to cover up. Admit your mistakes, no matter how foolish or embarrassing you think they may be. Remember, you can hide the truth from others, but you can’t hide it from yourself or God. The angst and misery you will feel down the road are much more stressful than had you just admitted you were wrong. Lies are why a lot of people end up alcoholics or drug addicts. The pain of the guilt becomes so bad they seek any way to forget about it. Drugs and alcohol can dull that pain for a while, but they can’t take it away. Someday you will read about all my lies, and the ways I used to cover up the guilt I had. I just hope you will take away some learning from it. I hope it will help you avoid the same pitfalls I experienced.
I love you so much son, you mean more to me than anything! That is no lie!
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
I woke up that hot summer day, sweating like crazy on my pillow. Did the a/c go out? Why am I so hot?
Turns out I was sleeping in the garage. No, I wasn’t sleeping in a car or on the garage floor, I was in my bed.
These are the things great mothers do when they are trying to teach their punk kid a lesson.
I Love you Mom!
(This isn’t a picture of the actual bed, but you get the idea)
Son, let me tell you about the word “spin”. I grew up in sales. Every job I had involved selling something. I was taught about spin at an early age. Highlight the positives, and de-emphasize or don’t mention the negatives. I was using it on your grandparents when I was a teenager. I found out that I was a natural at it. I’m not bragging, but I was probably one of the best at it. To me spin was a way of not having to lie, but still get people to buy into what you were trying to convince them to do. When I was younger I used it all the time to get your grandma to let me do something, or get something I wanted. It didn’t work as well on your grandpa. I also used it to get out of things. I used it to postpone having to cut the grass, and I used it when I came home at 2am and your Grandpa was waiting up for me to find out why the police came to our house earlier that night. I used it to get out of work, and I used it to try and convince your mom to date me. (She never really fell for it either)
I realize now, spinning is lying. It was just a creative way of doing it. Had anyone really took the time to dig into my claims, they would have caught me. I also realized after a lifetime of using spin, I started to believe it myself. Today’s world is all about spin. The media puts a spin on everything. You never know what is actually true anymore. The administration in Washington and our current President are some of the best spin doctors I have ever seen. Politicians on both sides have been using it for years. Again, the problem is sooner or later it will catch up to you. The truth always comes out. It is much better to be honest with people. You will earn much more respect that way. Dig deep and find out the true story, don’t get caught up in the spin that is being sold out there. Question those you feel are misleading you.
Straight for Webster’s dictionary:
Spin: Slang. to cause to have a particular bias; influence in a certain direction: His assignment was to spin the reporters after the president’s speech.
Let me tell you about something I am the best at. In fact, Wikipedia asked me to be the main contributor for this area because of my expertise.
EXCUSES EXCUSES EXCUSES
I used the following to get out of mowing the yard, going to work, quitting my job, lying to others, going somewhere I didn’t want to go, spending money buying stuff I didn’t need, not writing, and MANY more….
I’m sick, I’m tired, I’m sore, I’ll do it later, I forgot, I don’t know how, it’s too late, it’s too early, I don’t want to, my car broke down, I’m too stressed, I have to work tomorrow, I didn’t have enough notice, I have other plans, I don’t feel like it, I went last time, it’s boring, I need to lose more weight first, I’m embarrassed, I don’t want to talk, it’s too hard, they won’t care if I don’t go, they don’t pay me enough for this, I thought it was due next week, I’ll do it next year, my kid is sick, it’s a school night, I would go but my wife doesn’t want to, if they are going I’m not, the grass was too wet to mow, it’s too cold outside, it’s too hot for that, I don’t want to get lectured, God won’t care if I miss it this one time, the big game is on, no one expects me to be there, the teacher didn’t explain it well, I’m not used to it, I shouldn’t have to, it’s beneath me, I’m not good in those situations, God will forgive me, they will get over it, she didn’t go to my party, the lawnmower won’t start, I couldn’t find it, I don’t have any clothes that fit, I’m having a bad hair day, ASU is playing, it’s the playoffs, my friends are coming over, it must have been Wendy, Kristi probably did it, he told me to, dad is over-reacting, mom is losing it, my parents gave me these bad habits, it doesn’t really work, I don’t understand why it’s so important, no one else is doing it, it’s my last time I promise, everyone deserves a pass now and then, I don’t feel good about myself, the devil made me do it, Ken needs my help, I haven’t golfed in weeks, there was a sale, I really needed it, I’ll pay it later, I need this car, it will make me look cool, Johnny has one so I should too, it’s easier to lie, what they don’t know won’t hurt them, I’ll tell her later, now is not a good time, he won’t understand, why me?, the cops won’t catch me, I need to be happy, it won’t kill me, it’s stupid, God wouldn’t want me to go, I was close, I got a B isn’t that good enough?, I don’t need to study as hard as others do, my teacher likes me so she won’t care, at least I started it, I did better than they did, they won’t notice, I’m afraid, I’m not it good shape, I don’t like my boss, that preacher isn’t very good, the church is too big, the church is too small, why should it matter, I can do whatever I want, they are too far, it’s been too long, I’ll just pay someone else to do it, my clothes are dirty, the typewriter isn’t working, my computer broke, I think I have something wrong with me, my back hurts, you don’t want to know, I don’t want to hear it, everyone grows apart, they have their own lives now, they are too busy, they always want something from me, I’m stupid, I’m too lazy, life is short why waste it doing yard-work, they are family they’ll get over it, it really doesn’t matter, everyone else is doing it, my favorite show is on, and I’ll show them.
This was probably the easiest three pages of writing I ever did. It wasn’t hard to remember most of them. It was never difficult for me to come up with an excuse. I could justify anything. I could fool most people with these excuses, but I could never fool myself.
I was arrogant and self-absorbed. I lived in my own world and had to have “my time” to do whatever I wanted to. Everything was about Bill. If I didn’t want to do something, I didn’t. Ask your Grandpa and Grandma, they have probably heard most of the excuses I listed out.
When you live each day like it’s you last, you don’t have time for excuses. Everything won’t be about you, but instead what you can do for others. Don’t be a flake like your dad was. If you hear me making excuses, feel free to call me on it.
I love you son,
Luke 14:18-20: But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
We all have regrets. You can’t let them eat you up though. Some regrets you can do something about, some you can’t. Let go of the ones you can’t change, and try and make up for the ones you can. Follow my lead, I will show you how.
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead
Hi Grandma Landis.
I know even though you are no longer with us, you will still be able to read this.
I never told you how much I love you. I don’t think I even said the words very often. I was too busy thinking about you nagging me. I didn’t realize until later that you had every reason and every right to give me grief.
Maybe you will think what I used to do to you is funny now. Hopefully you can see the changes I am trying to make in my life. I know someday I will get my payback, it might be from my own grandchildren when I get older.
I’m sorry for taking out the tobacco from your cigarettes and replacing them with random household spices and mustard to hold it all in. I still think you never knew, you never said anything about it.
I feel bad about cranking up the music on the intercom system when you had just fallen asleep. I won’t soon forget you coming out of your room screaming “you damn kids, turn that radio down!” I think I blamed it on Ken or Christian Lechner, I can’t remember now.
I feel horrible about loosening the bolts on your extendo-toilet seat. I am thankful you never fell off of it.
How about the time my parents were out of town and you were charged with watching all us rascals. You kept asking me what was going on as girls kept coming in to use the restroom. “I just have a couple friends over” I told you. “We are just swimming out back”. Well, your suspicions were correct, I was having a party. There were about 20 people out back, but I only let the girls come in to pee. Yes Patti Bruno, I am finally admitting that it was my bag of empty beer bottles out in the middle of the alley behind our house. And yes, those were my beer bottle caps you randomly found around the house over the months that followed. We would flick them with our fingers to see who could make them fly the farthest; we just couldn’t find all of them.
Grandma, I still can’t believe we would call you from Aunt Joyce Horsman‘s house (before caller id) saying in our best Colonel Clink voice: “this is the Gestapo; you are to report to headquarters immediately or will be shot. Do you understand me Lillian?” Yes, that was me, even though I didn’t admit it when you asked me: “Billy did you crank call me? Someone said something about shooting someone”.
One of the worst I remember was when Ken just moved out here to AZ to stay with us until Aunt Joyce moved here. We devised a plan to really get you going. We sat on the couch while you sat in that chair of yours. It started when I put on my shoes and you asked me where I was going. I told you I was going to hang out with my friend. You wanted to know if I was taking Ken with me. I said “no, I don’t like him. I don’t want him to go”. You were so mad that you started that thing where you say all your grand-kids names before you finally got to the right one: “Wendy, Kristi, Tommy….Billy.” You couldn’t believe I just said that with Ken sitting there acting all lonely and depressed. “He’s no fun grandma” I said. Inside Ken and I were busting up laughing; you just about had a heart attack. Sorry grandma!
When I look back and think about all the rotten things I did to you, it’s partly because we spent a lot of time together. I understand now how lucky I was to have you around. Ken and I both cherished the times we came to visit you in the nursing home those last years of your life. We had some great conversations and I remember feeling like I could just be myself around you. It made my day.
The day you died I showed up at the nursing home before you took your last breath and went to heaven. I remember everyone was there huddled around you. You hadn’t said much all day and you weren’t in the best spirits. When I walked in the room, you perked up, smiled and said “hi Billy”. After all I did to make your life a challenge you didn’t hold it against me.
As Ken and I drove behind the hearse in your funeral procession, I couldn’t help but feel you were there with us. It was an incredibly beautiful overcast day and Ken and I cruised with the top down in my old Toyota. We still talk about that drive all the time, it was almost magical.
I still think about you every day. I talk to your grandson Zach about you. I know you are still watching over me. Every time our ceiling fan light turns on by itself we say “hi Grandma Landis!”
I love you and miss you. I promise things will be different with me next time I see you.
I just turned 18 a few days earlier when I decided to go get my first lottery ticket. Maybe this was the way I was going to get rich. I felt it! God was going to take care of me! I sat at home watching tv with my dad that night and anxiously waited to see my winning numbers get drawn. I can’t say dad was really watching, as usual he was half asleep. Then came the moment I was waiting for my whole life. The drawing was almost here, I was soon to have it all! Suddenly my dad woke up and said “son, you need to take out the trash, they are coming to pick it up tomorrow”. Knowing me, this was probably the 10th time he had to remind me.
I pulled out the lottery ticket from my back pocket and held it up to show him. In the cockiest way I knew how I said “see this dad, I’m going to win. In the morning I am going to pay you to take out the trash”.
How many of you would have got away with that one?
Sorry Dad! Thanks for your patience with me. I hope you are starting to see that the lessons you taught me didn’t just fall on deaf ears, but actually did sink in.
I love you,
Part of the purpose of talking to you and writing these life lessons is to try and help you find a way to get to the level on enlightenment I am just now experiencing. My goal is to help you and other young people get there much sooner in life than I did. I want to help you avoid wasting a decade or more of your life like I and many others do.
Once I graduated high school I felt like I had the world in my hands. Turns out I was wrong. I lost focus, and instead I let the world around me dictate what I did with my life.
As soon as I was an adult, your grandparents told me I could start making the decision to go to church or not. My first mistake was running like a “bat out of hell” from it. I was so tired of being “forced” to go to church on Sunday, Wednesday night, and any other day there was a church activity. I needed a break. I could finally sleep in, watch football, or do whatever I wanted to.
When I was your age, I was always fearful of the wrath of God. I read stories in the bible and heard sermons of his awesome power. I was scared to be bad. After all, I knew from the bible what happened to those who turned their back on him. It wasn’t good, to say the least. I was a good kid. (Not quite as genuine as you are) I knew what I could get away with. I knew how to turn on the “golden child” act when I needed to.
Once I stopped going to church and started going to college, I discovered that being bad wasn’t always punished like I thought it would be. In fact, it was very fun! I stopped fearing God and instead only used him when I was in a bind. I only prayed when I needed help. I never thanked him during the good times.
Here is an example: It was a Monday morning, the dj on the radio in my car was going over the traffic report. I remember him saying: “its 9am, you are late for work”. I was driving around the block by the house we used to live in when you were born. I must have circled that block at least 20 times. I was shaking and crying. I was a mess. I pulled the car over and started to pray. “Please Lord, if you get me out of this situation I swear I will start going to church again. I promise I will be a better Christian”. I used that exact prayer many times in my life.
I finished praying and finally got the nerve to go home. What had me so distraught? I was about to go home and tell your mom who was 3 months pregnant with you that I had just quit another job, and I didn’t have anything else lined up.
It was only in times like these that I prayed. No, I didn’t start going to church again, and I didn’t become a better Christian like I had promised. Had I kept my relationship with God strong, things would have worked out much differently for me. God did get me through this one, but your mom and I endured 4 months of major stress before I found another job.
Pray every day. Don’t wait for something bad to happen. There is always something or someone you can pray for. You can pray for strength, guidance, or just to say thanks. Ask for his insight when you are faced with difficult decisions.
Part of the problem we have in this country is we don’t ask the right person for help. Our nation’s leaders are not asking for God’s help before they make some of these big decisions our country faces. Instead they and others are relying on their own wisdom and experience. As you can see, that hasn’t worked out so well.
No one can conquer all their problems on their own. Keep God with you. This is the best advice I can give. Those times after high school and before you fully mature will be a big test of your faith. I believe had I kept God with me, I would have understood and fulfilled his plan for me a lot sooner. I wouldn’t have been so stressed out about not knowing what I was going to do with my life.
I love you son. Thanks for going to church with me again today.
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Zach. Wait, all is not lost! It turns out the only one lost was me. I think I have a way out for us. I think I know what’s needed to defeat the enemy. It’s not going to be easy, and it is going to take a huge commitment from you. I think……..no, I KNOW we can do it! We can change the world, but we must act now! I have a plan.
Zach. The world is falling apart and hatred is everywhere. This great country of ours is on the verge of collapse. People treat each-other with cynicism and mistrust. Atheists, and even some organizations I support are taking down every mention of God in our communities. Many are predicting the end of the world is near. All looks lost. It’s my fault. Sorry son.
Son, I am truly sorry for the mess I’ve put you into. It makes me sick to my stomach when I think about what you are up against, and I have had a headache for months. There is a disaster coming your way and I had a big part in creating it. I’ve given you little (if any) hope that you can survive it. I am sending you off to war with a pocket knife. I am so sorry son.