Elvis Presley was the first American Idol and the epitome of the American Dream. Born in poverty, he and his family lived off the goodwill of friends and family for most of his childhood. As a young man, he had a burning desire to play the guitar and sing. Yet, he was practical and studied to be an electrician and drove a truck to help make money for his family. But he never gave up on his heart’s desire.
At nineteen, he went into Sun Records to cut a record for his mama, which eventually lead to him recording That’s Alright Mama – his first big hit. By twenty-one years of age, he was known as simply Elvis – no last name needed. He was famous, handsome and highly controversial. For the rest of his life he was never able to go out in public because he was so recognizable and popular.
Elvis passed away in 1977. The sad part about his death was how much the press and the public held onto the bad things about him and loved to dwell on them. He was crucified by some of his friends and the press. The drugs, erratic behavior and the weight gain made him a caricature. Those who choose to perpetuate that bloated image and erratic behavior forgot all the good things he did, such as, his contribution to the music industry and love of music. Nor did anybody mentioned the people who lost jobs because he died, the charities that lost donations, or the people he gave so freely to – whether friends or complete strangers. His kindness, simple consideration for others and that fact he was always respectful to everyone was lost to bad press.
Elvis did not live in a million-dollar mansion or move to a posh neighborhood. He stayed in the place he considered home. Even after his death over 37 years ago, his estate provides means and employment for Memphis. If he could come back and see it, I often wonder what he would think of it all. His choices were not always the best, but he certainly still stands as Elvis – no last name needed.
His life is a reminder that bad choices can live on long after one is gone and overshadow one’s accomplishments and good deeds. That is a humbling thought. Life is about choices. Today as I think of Elvis, I chose to remember the smile, grace for others and passion for his music. His example of living his dream and giving to others is something we can all admire and hopefully will be inspired to emulate.
It’s not how much you have that makes people respect you, but who you are.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a famous, orange-red-colored bridge that spans across the strait of water at the mouth of the San Francisco Bay. It connects San Francisco with other areas of California. The Golden Gate Bridge is no ordinary bridge; it is a suspension bridge.
Suspension bridges are not only cost-effective because they use less material, but they also have a deck supported by cables. This means the road across is more flexible, able to handle high winds, and earthquakes with minimal damage. These types of bridges are considered more effective than fixed bridges.
Since its completion, The Golden Gate Bridge has been standing majestically in the strait for over 77 years. Thinking about that bridge makes me wonder how I will be standing in the straits of life when I am 77. Am I going to be fixed and ridged cracking under the stresses of life, or am I going to be flexible and adapting to all that life sends my way? Am I going to stand proud and strong because I have overcome, or am I going to be crumbling and grumbling about how miserable life is?
Now is the time for renewal and for figuring out how you will construct yourself over the waters of life. The choice of how to build and what to use to build your bridge is all up to you. You can use materials that last, and a design that is flexible, adaptable and able to withstand life’s storms. Or you can use materials that look good and at the time seems like a good idea but are not substantial and crumble at the first sign of rain. At the end of the storm, you may whine and moan that you have to start all over again, because your bridge did not withstand its first test.
Once you build your bridge, you also need to keep it up to code and adapt to changes. As time goes on, you may have to modify and strengthen your bridge to have it function more effectively. If you used proper materials and a good design, it will be easier to maintain. Also, if you start out with the right materials when you are young, changes that need to be made later will likely be less costly when adjustments and reinforcements are necessary to withstand the constant pressures of life. It is most important to be prepared for the unexpected. Remember, if you begin with the right materials and modify when needed, your bridge will be able to stand strong against the elements for a lifetime.
Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on a rock. When a flood came the torrent struck the house, but could not shake it, because it was well built. Luke 6:46-48
Every once in a while, I am unexpectedly and pleasantly surprised by something I see on the television or hear on the radio. I’m not sure where or when I heard this saying, but I wrote it down and saved it. Actually, it was a pretty profound statement. “Forgiveness is not deserved, but it sets you free.”
What a statement! Let’s face it; it’s hard to forgive someone who has wronged you. Usually human nature urges you to hurt someone the same way or more than he/she hurt you. And you may be inclined to hold a grudge. Neither is the right thing to do.
It’s true that forgiveness is not something that is deserved. But not forgiving causes you to hold onto bad feelings and makes you relive the wrongdoing over and over.
Every time you revisit that wrongdoing in your mind, you give that person another chance to hurt you. The anger and hurt you feel ends up harming you, and it does nothing to the person who hurt you. The person who committed the act against you is probably going along his/her merry way and may not have given his/her actions a second thought or may not even be aware of the transgression. To top it all off, you are giving him/her power over you that you really don’t want him/her to have!
Forgiveness does two things. First of all, it sets the forgiver free from revisiting the wrong and emotion tied to it. The forgiver is no longer a prisoner and is free to live and move into the present and away from the past. In forgiving, the forgiver is giving a gift that is not deserved, and a choice has been made to take the high road and not repay evil for evil.
Secondly, forgiveness opens the door to repair the relationship. If the person who transgressed against you is aware he/she has hurt you; it allows him/her to make the relationship right again. It is a necessary ingredient to rebuilding or repairing a harmed relationship.
Forgiveness is the hardest thing to bestow on someone who you feel is undeserving. However, the healing that comes afterward is worth the effort. As much as you may feel that the person who hurt you does not deserve it, you cannot move forward in your life without it. It’s okay to feel angry and hurt but forgive and move on. “Unforgiveness” brings bitterness which is so hard to get rid of because it grows roots that can grow deep and cause even more pain. I know it’s easier said than done. For your own sake, give the gift of forgiveness and set yourself free.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32