Choose Not to Forget Those Who’ve Touched Your Life
One More Year of Choices
By Barbara Dahlgren
A few years ago I read an interesting book titled Unfinished Business: One Man’s Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things. I think about it from time to time, when the busyness of the world causes me to forget others.
The author Lee Kravitz was laid off from his job as editor of Parade magazine, so he decided to reassess his life. Although just fifty-four, this self-professed workaholic discovered he had become disconnected from people in his life that really mattered to him. These thoughts were triggered while looking through a box of mementos, reflecting on the things he should have done but didn’t. With his wife’s blessing, Kravitz decided to devote the next year to completing unfinished business, which resulted in his book.
Kravitz traveled the world seeking out those he felt he needed to see. He visited an old friend who was now a monk, repaid a $600 loan to another, forgave a high school bully, reconnected with a mentally ill aunt, fulfilled a promise to an underprivileged boy, said thank you to a teacher who mentored him, and the list goes on. Along the way he met some fascinating people who opened doors for more personal and spiritual growth. In a Reader’s Digest interview Kravitz said, “Every experience was just so much richer than I could have imagined. I rediscovered the parts of myself that were compassionate, sensitive, and adventurous.”
Kravitz must have had a hefty severance or an advance on his book in order to be able to afford to take a year for this mission. Most of us don’t have that kind of time or money, but this book is a reminder not to neglect those who are most important to us. We don’t need lots of money to make a phone call, write a note of appreciation, send a sympathy card, email a friend, repay a kindness, or just say the words “I’m sorry” or “thank you.” Those kindnesses mean a lot to others – and to us.
Consider this… The great apostle Paul was not above being appreciative. In a letter to the Romans, Paul took the time to openly thank those who held a special place in his heart. (Romans 16:1-16) This is not just a list of names. Paul takes the time to mention why these people are special to him. Phoebe had been a help to many people including him. Priscilla and Aquila risked their lives for him. Andronicus and Junia were in prison with him. Rufus was like a mother to him.
Not only was he appreciative of what they had done for him, but also for what they had done for the church. Epaenetus, Urband, Stachys, and Apelles were fellow workers approved by Christ. And he was not above giving praise to women during a historical time when women were more to be seen than heard. Mary, Persius, Tryphena, Tryphosa (maybe they were twins?), and so on – all worked hard in the Lord.
How many of us have been touched by the lives of others, but neglected to let them know? We shouldn’t wait and wait before we do something. Soon years go by. We get busy. We forget. Maybe they will never know. We need to do it now!
Some ideas might be writing a note of appreciation, visiting a sick friend, sending a card of encouragement, repaying a debt, forgiving an oversight, making amends, reconnecting, or just telling someone you love them. We might not get a book deal out of it and make lots of money, but our lives and the lives of others will be richer for the effort.
Suggestions for practicing this choice…
When a past memory of a dear friend pops into your mind, write a quick note. It doesn’t have to be long and drawn out. You can start by saying, “I was just thinking about you and how my life is better because you’ve been a part of it. Remember the time we…”
Don’t assume loved ones know you love them. Say, “I love you,” and say it often.
When someone close to you is suffering, send a note of encouragement. Something simple like, “I’m thinking about you and praying for you today” can mean a lot.
Do you have any elderly people who have influenced your life? Take them out for ice cream and listen to their stories. Let them know they are special to you.
Don’t forget to thank God all the time. How will He know you’re thankful if you don’t tell Him?