Is This All There Is?
Written by: David J. Volk, Esq. | April 16, 2017
There is something bigger and more important in life than our material success. It is faith in God. Many of us will always want to climb the ladder of success in one way or another. It can make life interesting or blind us to the more important parts of our life.
‘Parts’ is a great concept for us to reflect on our lives and priorities. What does your personal pie chart look like? It is so easy to get blinded by whatever we are chasing that we forget that there should be other parts that we work hard at. Faith, family, and friends should be prominent on the chart. God gave us gifts to use to help us pursue success. Are we thankful for those gifts? Do we also use them for good beyond our personal desires? I have always been close to my family with a lot of time spent together. With friends, some few years back, the light bulb went off over my head. You will have solid relationships only if you make others important. That sounds so simplistic. It is not. Others are busy too. You have to regularly reach out to them. In a few hours, I can put together a party that has twenty or more people show up and we would all have a good time. Why? Those people are important to me. I keep in touch with them. The parties are a way to regularly gather people you like to share fellowship and concern for each other. It doesn’t have to be a big event. Inviting another couple over for dinner can mean a lot to them. The same thing applies to family. Make time for them. Appreciate them. Probably, they will be there for you in a tough time. If you have good people to lean on, you can’t fall over. We need others and we should view them as something we work for instead of taking them for granted.
And, we need God. If you have faith, you will withstand the storms of life less damaged. You will be more peaceful. You will live longer. You will be a beacon for others in their time of suffering.
If you have the higher calling for more than money and things, you become your better self. I am amazed by the truly faithful, hard working person. They can be tough and yet they can display a remarkable calmness when things go wobbly. My mom (who modestly did not want her name or other names used) is one of those people, but it was no easy journey.
The prompt for this blog post was that my mom sold a business this past week. It was a fairly large mobile home park that had been in development and operation for forty-four years including for the last seven or eight years with the amazing management efforts of my sister Angie who helped my mom after my dad passed away. I helped put in sewer lines there and was nearly killed two times. Once when a ditch collapsed a minute or two after I came up the ladder. I had been about ten feet below grade, it was winter, and it fell in where I had been standing as a giant chunk of frozen ground. The other time, I was standing too close while the backhoe operator was digging more ditch. The bucket swung back too fast, came towards my cement head, and seemingly stopped inches from my face. I still think an angel saved me both times.
So, the sale of that business brought back a lot of memories of growing up, working hard, and hanging in there through adversity.
My mom and I had a great conversation after the closing. We talked about how her life was changed and sustained by her faith in God. We lost my fourteen year old brother when I was twelve. Can you imagine what that would do to you as a mom? Still, my wonderful Aunt told her, ‘you have three other children and they need you.’ Basically, ‘you are not allowed to feel sorrow or withdraw.’ So, she endured and kept us moving forward with the routine tasks like getting us ready for school, Sunday spaghetti dinners after church, and visiting my dad’s parents every Sunday. And, doing the managerial work needed when you are married to an entrepreneurial soul like my dad.
My dad liked to buy real estate that he knew had good upside and excitedly present it to my mom who then had to suffer over the books trying to figure out how they were going to make the payments. They were an amazing team. My mom’s dad was a business mentor for the two of them. Coming from Italy with nothing but some dreams of a better life, his all-business hard work approach inspired mom and dad to follow his lead.
Of course, the stress would take its toll. At the time, my folks had a beer distributorship, a mobile home dealership, the mobile home park under development, and surface coal mining. It was not easy for either of them. It makes me tired remembering it. One evening my mom was sitting in her home office paying bills and doing bookkeeping and she looked around at all the papers and boxes of papers and said, “is this all there is?”
A wise person said, in tough times, you have to let go and let God. My mom did just that. She went over to the St. Theresa’s church rectory on a Thursday night and knocked. Father P., still a beloved family friend, answered and my mom, probably nervously, said, “I’ve heard you have a prayer meeting here on Thursdays. Could I join?” he said, “of course, c’mon in!” And, that made all the difference. Every Thursday, she was at that prayer meeting and built a deep abiding faith in God that helped her through a tragic time and all of the tough times entrepreneurial people face seemingly as a matter of routine. She became the spiritual mentor of our extended family and truly showed us by her actions that you can be hard working, successful, and have a relationship with God.
That relationship gives us our best self and the strength to endure when things get seemingly too hard to handle. My mom has probably given out thirty copies of a little book called Jesus Calling. I highly recommend it. It is like the work of the most brilliant psychologist and mentor. Two minutes a day and you will start each day strengthened with the word of God saying, remain calm; I am with you. Don’t we all need that message from time to time? We cannot hear it if all we care about is money and power.
There is more to this life than the accumulation of material success. Nothing wrong with having the goodies you have worked hard for. My point is, if we let our things define us, we are letting our ego take over. You will always chase something fancier if that is all you have. Wayne Dyer says ego stands for edging God out.
In all things, have balance. Think about your personal pie chart. Think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which tells us, if we can get beyond the needs for food and shelter, that life has a self actualized set of parts and that we need more than the basics. Embrace more than the basics and be your best self.
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