A writer here at iMOM recently asked me what three things I’ve learned the hard way that I wish I could teach my children. Of course my mind scrambled. Ha, I thought, how about 3 billion things? But what are some of my life lessons, the big picture things?
I thought of these three right away, and in the comments section, I would love to hear about some of yours!
1. Time will run out.
When I was seventeen, I had a cardiac arrest. I learned the hard way that you never know when you’re going to run out of time. I was cheerleading at a game, and my heart felt like it was beating so fast. I found out later it was doing 220 beats per minute for three hours straight. A couple hours later when I was in the emergency room, my heart stopped. Since then I’ve had about a dozen heart surgeries. I always think when I go into surgery: Okay, is this it? Has my time run out? What have I done with the time I was given? Will I have more time?
When I wake up after the surgery, the first thing I think is: Thank you God. I have more to do. What is it that You want me to do with the time I have left?
My time is running out, and I have always been acutely aware of that. This perspective has greatly altered the way I look at life. I enjoy and accomplish more because I don’t know how much more time there will be. I want my kids to know that too. It is a great reminder to seize the opportunity to live a life of purpose.
2. Don’t worry about what ifs.
Because of my heart problems, I also learned to be proactive and to take risks instead of worrying about what someone would think or if I was going to fail. I learned to save my energy for the task ahead instead of becoming exhausted worrying about what might happen.
For instance, in my junior year of college, girls from my sorority came to me and asked if I would run for president, and I said, “Sure!” I wasn’t afraid of what people would think if I failed. I wasn’t worried that I might not be able to get approval because I had never had an executive position before. I just took the next step and faced each battle as it came.
Another example would be starting Family First, the parent organization for iMOM. Mark was practicing law and I had just left my job as a Regional Marketing Manager for Bank of America to have Megan, our first daughter. It was absolutely not a good time to start a non-profit. But we prayed and then we trusted.
Recently, I told my college-aged son: “Don’t think about what if—think about what’s important now.” What step is the next important one? If you are always thinking-If I do this, then this might happen-you’re going to get paralyzed. Just take the next step.
3. “Happily ever after” is not a realistic goal.
The real goal should be to live lovingly ever after–not happily ever after. There’s a reason our vows say for better or worse, in sickness and health. The reality is that everyone suffers. When I got married, I just thought we would live happily-ever-after. I said the vows, but I didn’t think about them. Then I learned the difference between happily-ever-after and lovingly-ever-after. Love is a choice.
What lesson you learned the hard way have you taught your kids?