Recently, I had the City Slickers talk with a close friend. You know, when Billy Crystal said to Daniel Stern’s character Phil, “Your life is a do-over. You’ve got a clean slate.” My friend had just told me that his marriage is ending. There is apparently no hope of saving it; it’s finished. Life is never going to look or be the same. He’s not even sure where he’s going to live. My pep-talk included things I truly believe: that this is an opportunity to start again; that he must now focus on being the best father he can be to his daughter; that this is a tremendous chance to find new happiness.
After hanging up the phone, I walked outside in a fog. Worried for my friend, I hoped that I had said the right things. Quietly, I wondered how much I believed my own encouraging words. I looked up to find my 79-year old neighbor in his driveway busily packing his pickup truck with stuff from inside his house. I didn’t really feel like making small talk, but I waved. “Hey, Bill, how’s it going?” I asked. “Really good,” he enthusiastically replied. “Just getting rid of some old stuff.” I leaned on the hood of my car and just smiled. Just like that, it hit me: Bill is a walking example of the City Slickers talk.
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
~ C. S. Lewis
Bill is knocking on the door of 80-years old and he just got married this summer. He’s selling his house and moving into a new one. Three summers ago, we watched him care for his wife of nearly 60-years as she battled Alzheimer’s. He did everything for her. At times it looked like torture. She often became belligerent. Sometimes, she didn’t know him at all; she was a shell of her former self. After she passed away, Bill could have gone into a downward spiral himself. He has had a good life. He raised his children. He made a nice living. He could sit in a rocking chair and declare the story over, or at the very least, winding down. I’m willing to bet that never occurred to Bill. He’s embracing today. He’s leaving the house he’s lived in forever. He’s starting anew. Clean slate. Do-over.
It doesn’t matter how old you are. It doesn’t matter how much money you make or how much debt you have. God has handed you a book filled with clean, white pages. Your story is up to you to write. You’re going to mess up. The pages will be tattered and torn and happy endings may be few. You may even need a new book now and then. That’s okay. God has lots of them. It’s not THE END until it’s THE END.
Today, I’m praying for my friend. I know he can do it. I know you can do it. Put your old story on a shelf. Pull it down every once in a while and blow the dust off it to see how far you’ve come. Then put it back. Fresh pages come with each new sunrise. Write it. Live it.
After all, it’s your story…..