Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chances Lost Are Hope's Torn-Out Pages

                “It takes a lot to ruin a life,” says my co-worker. Her voice was so casual. She could just as easily have said, “It takes a lot to ruin a pot of coffee.” At first, I was comforted. There is comfort in believing you can’t really mess something up, particularly when you’re a perfectionist like I am. My second thought was that it couldn’t possibly be that easy. Just do what you want and it’ll all be okay? Seriously? I like to believe that my life is slightly more important than a pot of coffee. So, it’s worth asking. What does it take to ruin a life? Or save a life? Or simply change a life? Maybe not even yours but someone else’s. What does it take? The answer is The Seventeen Second Miracle by Jason F. Wright.

                When Rex Conner turns his back as a lifeguard, he learns exactly how long it takes to change a life. Only seventeen seconds and little eight-year-old Flick is fighting for her life. Despite Rex racing to save her and a few CPR attempts, she loses that fight. And Rex is left to live with four words that even I don’t need the book to remember: “You killed my angel.”  Seventeen seconds and more than one life changed forever.

                But the question wasn’t “How long does it take to change a life?” it was “What does it take to change a life?” The story at the beginning of the book seems a little abstract because so many lives were changed in so many different ways. So, shall we turn to a simpler example? Years after the first story…a young teenage Miles tells his girlfriend Kendra why he likes her. When he finishes, a wise mentor asks “Kendra, how long did it take for Miles to change your feelings from insecure to warm and happy?” Pause. Don’t focus on how long. What changed her feelings…? Miles did.

                What changes people? People change people. Maybe not in earth-shattering ways like the first example but often in little ways that can make a big difference. The real trick is allowing ourselves to be changed and learning to perform and see seventeen second miracles instead of seventeen second mistakes. When the seventeen second mistakes seem to abound, we can’t stop looking for the seventeen second miracles. I hope you look a little harder at the next person you get on the elevator with or the friend who looks a little gloomier than usual. I hope you see an opportunity to be a miracle to them, to change their day, to change their attitude…to change their life and to change your own.

Writing Music: “Home" by Phillip Phillips and "Chances" by Five for Fighting

“We would do well to slow down a little, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf