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January 2, 2019

Years ago, I read the testimony of an anonymous friar in a Nebraska monastery in a really good book by Chuck Swindoll, Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back. The friar wrote it in a letter late in his life.

“If I had my life to live over again, I’d try to make more mistakes next time. I would relax, I would limber up, I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I know of very few things I would take seriously. I would take more trips. I would be crazier. I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers, and watch more sunsets. I would do more walking and looking. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would have more actual troubles, and fewer imaginary ones. You see, I’m one of those people who lives life prophylactically and sensibly hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else, just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead each day. I’ve been one of those people who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot-water bottle,  a gargle, a raincoat, aspirin, and a parachute. If I had to do it over again I would go places, do things, and travel lighter than I have. If I had my life to live over I would start barefooted earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would play hookey more. I wouldn’t make such good grades, except by accident. I would ride on more merry-go-rounds. I’d pick more daisies.”


I’m writing this on New Year’s Day.  The day lots of people look back on the year we closed the books on last night, and ahead to what 2019 might hold for us.   Some of us will wonder what’s ahead with excitement, but some will wonder what 2018 would have been like if we had done it differently…

I thought of one of Don Merideth’s sayings this week as I was thinking about the New Year.  He made a name for himself as the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s.  When he hung up his cleats, he took up a new career in the broadcast booth of the original Monday Night Football crew, as a color commentator.  His quick wit and thick mental book of folksy sayings and phrases made him perfect for this.  Along side Frank Gifford, he kept America engaged every Monday night of the NFL season.

“If ifs and buts were candy and nuts,” Don would say, “we’d all have a Merry Christmas.”

Lots of people will look back over 2018 and thinking about ifs and buts.  If only I had said yes to that opportunity for…  If only I hadn’t let myself get into that bad relationship so far… If I had just thought about it longer, or got better advice…  It would have been a great year, but…

You fill in the blanks.  I’m pretty sure all of us have a few ifs and buts in the year we just said goodbye to.  If you don’t have any ifs and buts, I want to know about it and how you pulled it off.  In my best year (the one I haven’t yet had), I don’t have any illusions that I won’t still have ifs and buts.  Only a perfect person wouldn’t have ifs and buts.  There was only One perfect person, and He isn’t you or me.  All the rest of us will have ifs and buts.  Sorry to kill anybody’s buzz.  It’s simply not possible to live without regrets (unless you’ve got a serious mental illness).  You can reduce the number of regrets, but you can’t eliminate them.

Reducing your regrets is what HomeworK is about.  Specifically, reducing your regrets about your family life, your marriage, your relationships.  But as the name suggests, it will take some work.  Sometimes HARD work.

So roll up your sleeves at the start of 2019, and let’s take some steps to reduce the number of regrets you’ll look back on in a year.

If you had a magic wand, what one thing in your life would you wave it over to change?  Wow.  No transition.  Just boom.  Where’d that question come from?  I didn’t want to spend more keystrokes on a transition.

Just give some reflection to this question.  If you had a magic wand, what one thing in your life would you wave it over to change?  Right now, don’t worry about what it would take to get there.  Just think about what it would be like to live with that change once it gets made.  How would it change your personal life?  How would it change the dynamics of your marriage and family life?  Your career life?  What would that look like?  Camp out there for a few minutes and let the picture develop in your imagination.  Go ahead.  Reading more of this blog won’t help you right now.  But seeing a clearer picture of what your life could be will.  So set this aside and come back to it when you’ve got a really vivid picture of what your life would be like when this change happens.  Go ahead.

From → Marriage

  1. Doyle Kinney permalink

    Enjoyed it. You are right on

  2. Dave Thomas permalink

    Stop listening and acknowledging the revelation. Get off my rear and do what is being asked of me. This is good meat and potatoes stuff Steve. Thx

  3. Laura Kammarmeyer permalink

    Paul quoted that “if and and buts were candy and nuts we’d all have plenty for Christmas ” all the time.Not too surprising it could have come from Monday night football….good blog.. gives me something to think about..I’ll look forward to the next one.

  4. Mike Sweeney permalink

    Help more people without getting caught comes to mind. Strangers are easy, loved ones, now there is a challenge.

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