Life Lessons That Won’t Steer You Wrong

Yesterday, we celebrated the marriage of our son Jon and his bride, Erica, and in all the preparation for this event, I wondered what my participatory role could be to be a proactive part of the celebration. I mean Erica’s dad got to walk her down the aisle and do the Father-Daughter Dance. Sally got to choose a special song and do the Mother-Son Dance with Jon, Erica’s mom and Sally got to spend time with the girls of the bridal party, as Erica, her bridesmaids, and the moms were getting ready for the festivities. And then there was me, wondering what I could do. So, I thought that I might ask for the microphone (I never met a mic I didn’t like) after the toasts were done, and say a few things to the new bride and groom. The following is what I came up with to say. I submitted it as today’s Voice from the Bullpen piece, because I think it fits all of us in so many areas of our lives. You be the judge.

Wondering what I might be able to say today to Jon and Erica, after saying a bunch after their engagement in this column back in January, I thought and thought, but came up short, until I read the July/August 2018 issue of Reader’s Digest, which we got in June by the way. There were two articles in that particular issue that I felt would be perfect for today as the advice given can be used and applied to today’s newlyweds and those of us who have been married near forty, and forty plus, years.

The first article read was called “Billy Graham’s 6 Rules of Living.” These rules can be applied to every facet of Life, and they can especially be applied to relationship life. I’ll paraphrase his lessons by giving you the rule and a key sentence after it, and allow those words to be food for thought.

Rule 1 — Make it your goal to live at peace with others. The key is to ask God if we’re at fault, and if so, to confess and seek His help to overcome it.

Rule 2 — Avoid revenge. Don’t be captive of the past.

Rule 3 — Guard your tongue. Use it for good instead of evil.

Rule 4 — Never repay evil with evil. Evil is a sin, a deadly cancer that has invaded our souls.

Rule 5 — Treat others as you want them to treat you. How different our lives would be if we practiced this.

Rule 6 — Practice the Power of Forgiveness. You may hate the sin, but continue to love the sinner. And add Practice the Power of Patience to this rule as well.

The second article in that same issue that could apply to relationships as well, was called, “8 Life Lessons that Lasted.” Again, I’ll give the lesson, then my interpretation of each to serve as food for thought, and again, let you be the judge.

Lesson 1– Today is the first day of your future. Celebrate your pasts, but don’t live in them. Begin making your future together, and don’t waste any of those future days by missing out on any opportunity to show each other how much you mean to each other.

Lesson 2 — Don’t correct everything. Neither one of you are, or ever will be, perfect. Accept each other’s perfections, and flaws, as well. Remember, affection is always greater than perfection.

Lesson 3 — Skip the stupid. Don’t focus on things you might perceive as “stupid” that each other might do. Sometimes, instead, celebrate those “stupid” things with laughter, acceptance and tolerance.

Lesson 4 — Judge not. Don’t keep worrying about what you think is an imperfection with each other. It’s hard enough for each one of us to just be our self.

Lesson 5 — It’s okay to hurt. Don’t tell each other that everything’s going to be okay, or that time heals all wounds. Time may heal the wound, but the scar may always remain. Accept, and be patient, with each other’s scars.

Lesson 6 — Criticize in quiet. Remember always to practice criticizing in quiet, and praising in public.

Lesson 7 — Seize the day. How many times do we see something at a store and think about buying it but don’t, and then when we go back to buy it, it’s gone. Relationships can be the same way. So, never put off saying the “I love yous,” the “Thank yous,” and the “I’m sorrys.” Live every day to the fullest.

Lesson 8 — Winning isn’t everything. Think long and hard, do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? Sometimes you win more in the long run by giving in during a discussion, or deciding what movie to go see, or what to do on a Friday night, etc.

Remember this when you raise children. I’ve tweaked a quote from Project Mercury Astronaut Wally Schirra, and say to you, “You don’t raise heroes and heroines. You raise sons and daughters, but if you treat them like sons and daughters, they’ll turn out to be heroes and heroines, even if it’s just in your own eyes.”

I’ve been blessed with one hero and two heroines that I call my children. I think Elliot and Debbie can say that about their daughter and son as well. Raise your children well, Jon and Erica. Raise them with Wally Schirra’s words in mind. Be their parent first, not their friend. Show compassion when necessary, parent with tough love when necessary. Jon, learn from the mistakes my lack of control over my temper and my personality created. Don’t show my example to your children. Put all others in your family first and shield and protect them, but give them room to make their mistakes, like when they get speeding tickets, skip classes, drink underage, change clothes after leaving the house for school, or apply makeup then too, or hike up their skirts, etc. Make your kids be accountable for their mistakes, and let them learn from them. And be ready, because whatever they think they’re getting away with, it will get back to you. Plan your strategy wisely as to how, and when, you surprise them when you let them know that you know. The expressions on their faces will be another reward of parenting.

Lastly, I know you love each other, but always remember to like each other too. Enjoy each other’s company. Laugh a lot, and then laugh some more. Take an entire night and sit in a 24 hour coffee shop together, and just be silly with each other. Cry together, hug each other, and be of comfort to each other. Remember the promises you made to each other today.

Taking a quote from the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “May your house always have bread, that you may never know hunger, salt, that life may always have flavor, and wine, that joy and prosperity may reign forever.”

Always know where you are going, but never forget from where you came. Remember your parents, all four of us, are here if, and when, you may ever need us. Never, ever, forget that, and whatever you do, always remember the three “Bes — Be smart, Be safe, and Be happy. I Love you both so much. Have a wonderful life together.”