I once paid a working visit to the biggest Christian publishing house in the world at their headquarters in Michigan, USA.
My schedule was to briefly meet the Vice President of International Marketing and Sales and then be taken on a tour by a junior officer for half a day. However, after engaging the big man, the Vice President of International Marketing and Sales for 5 minutes, he decided that I remain with him for the rest of the visit. I accompanied him in his Mercury Grand Marquis to his medical checkup and then continued to lunch at a high class restaurant with his wife and 2 other friends. We talked all through and 4 hours later, he dropped me at my hotel.
Before we parted, I said to him, “There is something very different about you. You’re a wonderful man.” He was unique in that despite the power he wielded, he wasn’t patronising , he treated me as a friend and was warm and genuine.
He laughed and said, “You wouldn’t have been able to say that about me four years ago.” He said, “Two things caused me to change.”
Number 1 : One day, my wife said to me, ‘I love you but I don’t like you.’ She said, “You are my husband and so I have no choice but to love you but I don’t like you because you are too selfish and too insensitive and you have no time for anyone.”
He said it shook him. He had always thought of himself as a nice and good man and yet here was his wife telling him that he was a jerk. But before he could do anything about his resolution to change for his wife, the second reason happened.
He had been having some headaches so he went to the hospital, after tests and scans the doctor said, “I am afraid you have a malignant cancer of the brain. From the look of things, you have less than six months to live. I will not recommend any treatment because it will be a waste of money and time. I will advise that you go and put your affairs in order immediately.”
The big man said, “James, I was devastated. All of a sudden, I felt drained of every ounce of energy”. After summoning some strength he left for his car. He said, “As soon as I got into my car, I broke down and wept like a baby. Suddenly, I realized that I had lived only for myself and my life has been a huge waste. I felt a deep sense of regret and shame.”
After two hours mourning his wasted life, he composed himself and said, “I am going to die within six months but I am not dead today. So, let me at least use what little time I have to make amends.”
He made a list of people he needed ask their forgiveness , the list included his son , his wife and his staff. With the clarity the prospect of dying soon gave, he could see clearly that he had sacrificed everyone he could for his career.
He took the rest of the afternoon off and went home to start making amends with his wife. Immediately he got home his cellphone rang. He picked it. It was his doctor and he said , “I owe you a huge apology. I gave you the wrong medical report. You don’t have cancer. You are just stressed and you need a little rest.”
The big man said, “I dissolved to the ground crying but this time from relief.”
He said, “Whilst lying on the floor of my living room, I said to myself, this time the report was wrong but some day, I would be facing death. So, let me live today as if I don’t have much time to live.”
And he said, from that day, he became a new man. He had as it were stared death in the face and he was resolved that the next time he faced death, he would be ready, knowing that he had lived a full and meaningful life.
Question 1 : if you are given a few months to live, what kind of life would you wish you have lived?
How about living that kind of life from today because really your time on this earth is finite.
Question 2 : Does your partner like you? They may love you but do they like you?
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