Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Appearances Vs. Actuality

A couple of weeks ago while watching the sitcom, "Parks and Recreation" with my hubby, the idea for this blog hit me.  In this particular episode, a character named, "Jerry," (played by Jim O'Heir), is preparing to retire.  His boss and the show's leading lady, "Leslie," (played by Amy Poehler), is concerned that he is leaving without realizing any true success in his many years of service.  She feels badly that his life has been so, "unsuccessful" and "unfulfilling," and desires to find a way to make up for this before his last day at the office.  It is yet another hilarious episode.  But the best part is when she visits him at his home in her quest for trying to, "help" him.  Upon so doing, she meets his shockingly beautiful, adoring wife (played by Christie Brinkley) and his lovely daughters, and quickly understands that Jerry's home-life has vastly made up for any appearance of a lack of, "success," in his life.  As Jerry proudly shows her the evidence of how great his life has been from extensive family photo albums, Leslie sincerely congratulates him on a life well-led.  I found myself tearing-up as I laughed hysterically at the antics of Jerry and his family with their special, "dinner song," group hug, and other ridiculous family moments because I could so totally relate (my family has some pretty goofy, quirky "specialness," too)! Jerry reassures Leslie that his life has been more fulfilling than his wildest dreams.  He had always equated his success in life to his family life--and boy, had he been successful.

By all the world's standards, my life is not a great success.  I am not vastly wealthy.  I don't live in a fancy house.  I do not own more than one home.  I have never had an impressive job.  But as I watched this show on this night, I was reminded of the wealth of my marriage, my family, and my home-life.  I possess more photo albums than one can easily count, filled with lavish memories of precious times spent with my husband, my daughter, and my extended family.  I have an entire box full of notes written to me by students who claimed I was their, "favorite teacher," or the teacher who had, "made a difference" in their life.  Matt, Allie, and I have had and still have more quirky family "moments" and "inside jokes" than most.  I didn't make it my life's priority to become rich and important.  My marriage and my daughter have always been my top priorities and always will be.  I have no regrets for this.  When I come home, my husband always acts as if he hasn't seen me in days.  When I do not travel with him for his work, he throws a fit and then proceeds to call me each night and say, "I wish you were here.  I know I won't sleep well tonight."  On top of all that, I typically have to tell my husband to go spend time with his friends.  When I ask him why this is, he always says, "I just like being with you."  You cannot put a price on that.  This is my success and I wouldn't trade it for 20 houses or a place on, "The Voice." 

If I died today, I would have no regrets about anything.  The freedom of being able to say that honestly is worth more money than one can make in a lifetime.  I have loved everyone who has ever been in my life with a vengeance.  I have been honest with people even when it is hard.  I have forgiven those who have hurt me and worked to try to mend bridges when God urges me to do so.  I have given of my time, energy, money, and talents to those who need it and when/where God calls me to give it.  I have let go of people and things that bring me pain, undue strain, or zap my time and energy from the things that God says should come first.  I have been faithful to my husband and my family, working to spend quality time and investing in their lives above all else.  These are the real keys to success.  Forget what the world tells you.  Leave behind the list of, "do's" given by people who seek to run your life.  Let God do that for you--His list is reasonable and doable.  No job, no money, no vanity, and no positions are going to be there to hold your hand when you are sick or dying.  No energy and time invested in superficial people or things will ever leave a true legacy.  I heard a quote recently that sums it up well:  "Create a life that feels good on the inside and doesn't just look good on the outside."  Amen. 

Corroborating Scripture:

Proverbs 18:22, "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord."

1 Samuel 16:7, "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."  

Matthew 16:26, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?"

Proverbs 3:1-4, "My son, do not forget My teaching, but let your heart keep My commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of GOD and man."