Invest and Leave it Behind
A couple of months ago I ran into Travis at the frozen yogurt shop. It was such a great opportunity to thank him for all of things that he had done for my son and his friends when they were in high school and even beyond; camping trips, cooking huge breakfasts together, or chaperoning their youth activities and camps. During the years when those teenage boys needed mentors and other adults to pour themselves into their lives, Travis did just that. It wasn’t that they didn’t have loving and supportive families. They did. It was simply that they were teenage boys with all the stresses and pressures that come with it. Boys who totally bonded with someone as “cool” as Travis.
Before we left I took a picture of Travis and sent it to my youngest son; I knew that he would be truly excited that I had run into him. Sure enough, his reply was, “Love that guy!” Little did I know that summer evening that I would never see Travis again this side of Heaven. Last week he fell while bouldering in Colorado and lost his life. In the following days, his life has been celebrated online with story after story like ours; he was just a really great guy who lived his life helping others. Serving, mentoring and helping anyone who had the privilege of knowing him.
At the public school where I work, we have a “Buddy” program that has been hugely successful. It warms my heart every time we have an event to realize that teachers who have spent their entire day with a roomful of children are willing to invest even more of themselves into one special child who is at risk for dropping out of school. For one reason or another, each student is handpicked for the program. They may have experienced family loss, broken homes or simply struggle to make it through each day. Teachers who volunteer to be in the program often have families of their own, yet choose to spend many hours with one particular student who needs their undivided attention.
Quite a few years ago, my daughter in law chose to continue to be a Big Sis in the Big Sister/Little Sister program. Even though she now has children of her own, she and her little sister of four years still spend many hours together doing fun activities and bonding. Just this past weekend they went canoeing; just the two of them. The few times that I have had the privilege of spending time with her little Sis, her admiration is obvious. She clearly looks up to Kristen and considers her as a very important role model in her life.
No matter what stage of life we are in, it is our responsibility to invest our time into the generations that follow us. Whether we spend precious time with grandchildren or nieces and nephews, volunteer to help with youth activities, or simply participate in things that cross generational boundaries, we have so much to share with others. By giving of ourselves we often find that we receive much more than we ever imagined.
Recently I read the most disturbing blog article called, “6 Reasons My Husband and I Probably Won’t Make Your Event, and Why We Don’t Want You to take it Personal…” The main premise of the article was that the author and her family won’t likely be there to help you celebrate the milestones in your life because, quite frankly, they only care about themselves. Although the comments following the article made it clear that the content had invoked the ire of many people, I found myself feeling both appalled and sad for them. To be so self-centered that you are unwilling to sacrifice a bit of your time to invest in the lives of your loved ones is rather pathetic. And you are clearly missing out on the richness that comes from knowing that you are helping and serving your fellow man.
This week I would like to encourage each of us to take inventory of our own lives. Who are we pouring ourselves into? Who are we allowing to benefit from the lessons learned from our past mistakes? When friends and loved ones one day speak of us in the past tense, will they have story after story of how we gave of ourselves to help others? That’s the kind of investor I want to be. Lord, help me to invest….and leave it behind.