>Fred Smith wrote bunches of books. He was a Christian first, a successful businessman, and, as this letter evidences, a wise father. Read more about him, and/or read more of his stuff BY CLICKING HERE
Fred’s family was not impervious to heartache. In 1986, their oldest daughter was divorced after 20 years of marriage. Recently, a 23 page letter to her was found in Fred’s files. It is clearly marked across the top, “Not Sent.” The date reflects a period of turmoil; the letter reflects a wise father’s heart. With her permission, we are excerpting just a few of the principles with the hope and prayer others in difficult situations may find hope through strategic thinking.
“Try to read this through the first time as if you were reading or grading an essay. There is so much with which you will disagree that if you stop at any or all those points you will not get the sense of what I have written.” This introductory statement set the stage for the pages and pages of observation. __________________________
I am not surprised at how much alike we are. So, I don’t feel like I am guessing when I make suggestions for your thinking. I will be as honest as I know how.
1. Drop all counseling except from a licensed therapist. You are getting too much talking from too many people. They are all sincere, but most are immature as counselors. Just ask them to pray for you as a friend and not make you their “spiritual project.” The best intentioned, untrained people can be wrong. Display as much maturity as you possibly can. Study the steps of grief recovery. Don’t shortchange anger, but get through it maturely. Stop screaming.
2. Work out a plan on paper for your future that you can carry out. The hurt has undermined your decision-making ability. You fear rejection and seem determined to find the perfect will of God before moving. God knows your heart’s desire and will reward it —- you don’t have to focus so much on the finding. And, honestly, when you do find it, it probably won’t look like you think it will. You seem intent on identifying God’s will by the test of smooth sailing and good feelings right now. We won’t argue this, but I think you are wrong. You may have to let someone else see for you during this time of partial blindness. Don’t appoint a committee, even of well-meaning friends.
3. Focus on your foundation. Your tendency to put others first is a form of escapism. Running away from your responsibility to yourself creates havoc. One must start inside and work outward to have a center to life. Otherwise, the working outside creates a dependence on the acceptance of others. You need a foundation upon which to build the house….the quiet center. Don’t confuse this with selfishness or self-centeredness. We all must start with the “you.” When you fall into self-rejection, you fail to honor God. I wish you could appreciate what I feel is unique and potentially great about you. In wanting to be humble, you fail to acknowledge God’s gifts to you. Don’t lie about what you have been given. You only have what God has given you, anyway. Do you feel the strength of what I am saying? (It is 3:00 in the morning, so I may be getting a bit fuzzy).
4. Get a job. This is not just an economic necessity, but a psychic one, as well. It will give you a routine, something positive to demand your attention which will keep your old thought patterns from dominating your mind. It will give you a feeling of self-sufficiency which you will need. Your kids deserve to have a home they can come back to. You deserve a home, even if it is one you alone must provide. This all comes with a job and a profession you can depend on. A job is the first key to your recovery and the recapture of your center from which to operate. You may feel like you don’t have the energy, but you will as you have new experiences and renewed self-respect. Remember I have the word “Start” on my desk? It reminds me what to do when I am stuck. If I did not, I would sink deeper and deeper into the fog and self pity when I don’t have the energy to move forward. You are my relative — it will work for you, too. Just start.
Think carefully about: 1) What letter do I need to write to a family member? 2) How does Fred’s wisdom apply to me right now? 3) Who in my life is hurting and stuck?
Words of Wisdom: “I fully believe you are coming through. You belong to God. I know, for I gave you to Him and He will keep that which I have committed.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1 NET Bible)