Not that I set the woods on fire (not literally, just a figure of speech) by always doing the right thing, but most of what I learned about how to treat other folks came from two really important …
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Not that I set the woods on fire (not literally, just a figure of speech) by always doing the right thing, but most of what I learned about how to treat other folks came from two really important sources — my folks and the church.
The good news for me — and others who had similar experiences — is that most of the time those two were walking hand in hand. I know the world can be tough today. And stuff we don’t understand happens a lot, but one of the biggest hurts I know is that many — and I mean many — little folks don’t have that two-prong combination going for them and they’re growing up not always knowing how to treat both themselves and other folks.
And so the cycle repeats when they have kids and all of society is the loser.
I wish when I was younger that I had known of the pain many people endure. Some of it, to be sure, is of their own doing. Some choices are bad on purpose; others just sort of get away from us and before we know it we’re in over our heads. But the reality of life is I couldn’t have known those things until I’d experienced them — either on my own or by seeing what was going on with other folks.
And the reality of all that is that all that takes time.
So today I’m no longer 18, the age at which I knew everything, or 21, the age at which I could vote, or even 35, the age when I could have been president. And so the question now has become what do I do where I am with what I have left, which I hope is a few more years (since I’d like to see if UNC can ever gets its mess right on the football field and if the Cardinals can win a few more World Series).
I think then, through that combination of my folks and church and the time spent to learn those life experiences, that I have discovered the secret of life — made even more aware in this Thanksgiving time. And although I’m a big fan of the American free enterprise system, please give serious consideration to not overlooking Thanksgiving in the already-overly-saturated rush to Christmas.
That secret of life is that we all have something to do.
All of us.
As a little fellow in church life, I succumbed to that thought that infects many folks. I was big on church and thought there was sort of a pecking order that had to be there. That meant that the preacher (my word then, but not now) was the A-Number One Honcho. Just a bit below were the deacons and/or trustees. Below them were the Sunday School teachers, followed by committee members and so on and so forth on down to the ushers and finally the folks who filled a pew.
That reasoning led me to believe then that if you really wanted to make it big with God, you needed to be a missionary, either in the U.S., which was cool, but if you really wanted things to look good on your resume, then you needed to go to the African Congo, the Amazon River basin or deepest China.
Now I am not diminishing the importance of that work and the folks who do it, but the reality finally came somewhere after that 35th year when I could have been president that there was no such pecking order in life.
And I think what I want to say to folks, here or in the pulpit or in daily life, is that we all have something to do.
All of us.
Take a moment or two this Thanksgiving Day and season to fine tune who you are and where you are and see if you can find what it is you are to do. Chances are pretty good it won’t get done unless you do it.
And so here’s the advice: Be like Nike, the shoe company — just do it.
Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.
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