In my last post, I discussed Gretchen Rubin, author of Better than Before—a book that’s had a positive impact on me. One of Rubin’s recent blog posts included her interview with James. E. Ryan, who’s written a book I plan to purchase, entitled Wait – What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions. In her interview with Ryan, Rubin asked a question:
Have you ever been hit by a “lightning bolt,” where you changed a major habit very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?
This question started the wheels in my head turning, and I realized my answer to Ms. Rubin’s inquiry would have been, “You betcha!” In my last post I told about one “lightning-bolt” experience that causes me to remember when encountering annoying interpersonal situations:
You don’t know what you don’t know!
Today, I’d like to tell you about a couple more “lightning-bolt” experiences.
We were getting ready to head home after a very nice Christmas party at the home of our friends, Bill and Sharon. Bill is retired now, but he was a highly successful businessman, and financially, they’ve been blessed. In addition to their earthly wealth, Bill and Sharon are some of the most generous and loving folks I’ve ever met.
Their large, beautifully decorated house was the perfect setting for the Christmas celebration. As we got ready to leave, my husband, Ron, helped Bill extinguish the dozens of candles which had added much warm ambiance to the gathering. Bill (much to Ron’s relief, it was Bill) tipped over a red candle situated on a high ledge. The toppled candle drizzled hot, sticky, red candle wax onto an obviously expensive ivory-colored silk lampshade.
All observing the mishap gasped. Our collective gasps brought Sharon from the kitchen into the living room. How’s Sharon going to react? I wondered. I knew I would have been ticked off if my husband had made such a blunder. My friend, with both hands positioned on her hips, surveyed the accident scene, nodded her head back and forth slowly and uttered words I shall never forget, “Wood, hay and stubble. That’s all it is. Wood, hay and stubble.”
Sharon’s comment was based on a Scriptural reference illustrating people to build our lives with materials that have eternal rather than earthly value. Since then, whenever I get overly concerned about an earthly possession, I’m reminded:
It’s just ‘stuff’—wood, hay and stubble—and in light of eternity, ‘stuff’ has little value.
Yet another “lightning-bolt” experience I had that resulted in a major personal habit adjustment occurred about four years ago after helping my oldest granddaughter prepare a persuasive speech for her Speech 101 college class.
Sydney wanted to persuade classmates that drinking soda was harmful. We talked about how she could illustrate the 12 teaspoons of sugar contained in every regular-sized can of soda. Perhaps educating weight-conscious students that each can of soda contains approximately 150 empty calories might be a point of persuasion.
My thoughts were definitely outwardly focused at the time, but the more I thought about Sydney’s speech, the more I thought about my own consumption of Diet Coke. If it’s possible to love a substance, I loved Diet Coke. A few weeks before the speech prep activity, one hot summer day I heard myself say, “I’d kill for a Diet Coke right now!” Even though I knew my comment was hyperbole, I didn’t like the words coming from my mouth. Additionally, because I’m a reader and read anything I can about wellness, I knew research was supporting claims about the detrimental effects of artificial sweeteners such as those in most diet sodas.
So, one day in October, a few weeks after helping Sydney with her speech, I went ‘cold-turkey’ and haven’t had a Diet Coke since. At first it was hard—really hard—especially when we ate Mexican food or pizza. Even though I believe in the value of moderation, I realized early on that where Diet Coke is concerned, total abstinence is the better option for me. Eventually, I stopped craving the artificial, non-nutritious drink. I learned to enjoy sparkling water with a twist of lemon or lime, and plain iced green tea has become my favorite cold drink of choice.
As in my last post, I’d like to invite you to share a “lightning-bolt” change experience. Until then…
Blessings on your path leading to significant, life-giving emotional, relational, physical and spiritual change…