Sometimes at the moment of a health crisis, you learn what’s truly important.
Toni and I often talk about life changes, boundaries, and priorities. The irony of facing death is that it forces you to a more meaningful life.
We do need to die in some respects to those things which promote death and live more towards those things which promote life. It’s like choosing between bacon, which I love, but fosters death, and beansprouts, which I hate, but promotes life. However, living life on hospital food is certainly no fun either. So, we strive for a balance. And this is what my brush with death has taught me.
The movie “Click,” with Adam Sandler, has some great truths running through it, along with its great humor and satire.
Morty (The Angel of Death), played by Christopher Walken, tells Michael Newman, played by Adam Sandler, who’s fast-forwarding his way through life with an enchanted TV clicker, the following:
“He’s always chasing the pot of gold, but when he gets there, at the end of the day, it’s just cornflakes.”
Towards the end of the movie (WARNING SPOILER ALERT), Michael finally gets it and cries out, in the throughs of death:
Michael Newman: [dying] “Family, family… FAMILY COMES FIRST.”
Isn’t it so true? Family should come first, and I can promise, in the very moment when life is quickly or slowly draining from your body, its family first comes to your mind…
…”I want to see and hold my first grandchild from Josh and Jenny.”
“Oh my goodness, today is Tessa’s 24th Birthday, and I’m going to miss it!”
Tears began rolling down my face as I saw those moments of life fast-forwarding before me. And that was my wake-up call at 2:30 in the morning, Friday, October 11, 2013, as I sat in triage all alone and when the reality of “heart attack” was suggested by the physician.
I wanted to exchange “I love you’s” with my wife and children again! I wanted to see who’d become my son, Jordan’s wife, and welcome her into our family.
I confess that not one of my projects, clients, or deadlines entered my mind while facing the prospect of a heart attack. Not one more contract signing or one more insurance settlement, which I have to face, is most likely what put me into the hospital in the first place.
I need to say “yes” to life and “no” to death. It’s the wrong choices in those subtle decisions which can soon pile up into a health disaster. It is all those times when the tyranny of less critical things overrules the more essential things of life.
“Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no; anything more than that is from the Evil One.” Matthew 5:37 – Jesus of Nazareth
I don’t think striving to properly love your family, keeping your promises, being home on time for dinner, or kissing your wife and kids goodbye in the morning, has put anybody into the hospital.
Proverbs 4:23 says it best: “Guard your heart more than anything else because the source of your life flows from it.”
It is the redeemed heart where God lives, our source of life. This, too, is where our families live and dwell. This is also where the love of our life resides. Work should never enter our hearts the way God and our loved ones do, for it will always push God, family, and our loved ones out. Guard your heart more than anything else!
Our misplaced priorities will always attack what truly matters to our hearts and, if ignored, may eventually cause a heart attack.
So, my new motto for life:
“Family, family… …FAMILY COMES FIRST.”
In this, we find all the treasures of life, and it is those relationships and memories which are worth living for.
After all, everything else, “at the end of the day, is just cornflakes!”