It was an interesting conversation, that I had with my son and his new wife. They were asking questions about jobs, homes, and far reaching decisions that appeared so final. You know, questions like, we want to move out in the country, but all the good jobs are in the city. Should we try to buy a place close to our jobs and pay on a bigger mortgage or move further out (where property is cheaper) and have faith we will find work? Is it better to find an old place and fix it up or start from scratch. It seems like yesterday that the hardest questions my kid would ask was; did he need a better paintball gun. I probably didn’t answer these tough questions quite like they were hoping, and only gave them my view of the ins and outs of each decision. My wife and I have had experience making some of these very same decisions. We have in the past, started on raw land and built a homestead and lately sold that and bought an older farm site and fixed it up. It was not ignorance on my part that stopped me from saying ” my son thou shalt doeth it this way”, just wisdom to see that THEY have to make these broader decisions. In the end the direction one chooses is going to hit hard trail, and the conviction of ones mind and raw faith are the fuel for success.
I do not envy, except their youth and strength, the young people starting out today. When I was starting out, the world had many problems and hurdles, but it was not the black forest of question marks that fill todays decision landscape. And no, its not just that I’m getting old and don’t remember, or that every generation thinks life was better in the “old days”. In the game of life today, there are a lot fewer truisms that I was assured of in my youth. How about, “invest in a house/real estate is your best investment” or “get a college degree-that’s money and time not wasted”. In the following of such wisdom you could find yourself with a degree in VHS design living in an underwater house in Detroit, ’nuff said. I don’t know historically how many times common wisdom was turned on its head, where concrete turned out to be quicksand, but I’m sure its been a few times. I did give my son some advice he could think about, like staying as flexible as possible and learn as many marketable skills as he could. I warned him about getting too far in debt while relying on the pay grade found only in one narrow industry (oil industry), and that his income could go up or down depending on the boom and bust cycle. I told him his best bet was to rely on himself rather than the promises of security found in an “old established company” or “a good union job”. I’m not saying those jobs don’t exist or that they are not good jobs, but the security that these jobs used to convey is mere smoke and nonsense in today’s rapidly changing environment. I believe it was all decent advice, on the whole, and I know my son has the strength to chase his dreams, but it is possible I left some important stuff out. Important stuff that only comes to light after some reflection, and a few prayers.
It was easy to see the gleam in my son’s eyes while he talked, he is newly married, he wants his own place, and he wants it to be right. They know they are going to have to work together and sacrifice. They know dreams don’t happen overnight and they obviously are not afraid to spit on their hands and take on a challenge. But in all this chasing of dreams lies one of life’s more sneaky IED’s (improvised explosive device), improvised as it were, by our own hands. All this “eyes on the prize” and sacrifice for a goal is what is needed to succeed at life’s challenges, but it can lead to losing some of the best things in order to “better” oneself. Focusing on the end result, thinking that, “I can start living when I have the place I want, right now I must put my nose down and arse up” makes you a tempting target for the devil, at the very least you’ve got some bad tunnel vision going. The biggest problem is that these great projects take so darn long, a home, a business or whatever. Its not like you can put in a couple of weekends and a few all nighters and finish the job, they take a lifetime to finish; if they are ever really finished. I remember one day walking around my new piece of land with my dad, I was 24 years old and bursting with ideas and plans. I was telling him about where the barn would be and the fences would run, where the pond would go and the size of a future garden area. My plans were expansive (and some expensive) and the dream was almost as boundless as my enthusiasm. All this grandiose chatter was coming out as we walked around on land covered with trees,( except for a clearing I had made that you could almost spit across). Dad listened, patiently smiling the whole time, then he said ” yes son, and when your all done you’ll be an old man”. I was a little miffed I must say, and right as he was, I inadvertently tried to prove him wrong.
Over the years that particular IED blew up a few times as sacrifices were made to “accomplish the goal” but there was no permanent damage, no actual body count. I’m still married to the same wonderful woman, and my kids learned about sacrifice and hard work, but all the priorities completely shifted in hindsight. That is why before you set out on this particular trip in life, what is truly important must be mapped out. Make sure that sacrifices placed on the alter of “the project” are not the things which make life worth living. This is not an easy task, all must be weighed in the balance of life, and decisions made on the fly, it takes wisdom, and grace. Your Creator must come first, from Him you will obtain grace and wisdom. Your family must come next, to them you will dispense His grace and wisdom. The rest is wrangled from what is left over, there is no other way. I know one cannot expect old heads on young shoulders but knowing such a foundation exists makes all the difference, and one has to start somewhere. Maybe, just maybe, when life is so busy you feel like your riding out a tornado in an outhouse you can stop for a moment. Stop and close your eyes, bow your head and ask for grace. With the grace ask for wisdom. Now count your blessings and have the faith that you will make the right decisions.