What is truly important in life?

as published in the Blytheville Courier News on Monday, January 25, 2016

Recent circumstances have forced me to better recognize what is truly important in my life. Believe it or not, those things that ARE truly important have nothing to do with what I wear, what I drive or if my favorite ball teams are winning or losing. They don’t even have to do with politics! Yeah I know…that’s just crazy isn’t it?

The other day, before it got bitterly cold, I was sitting outside, watching the birds and just thinking about life in general when it dawned on me…King Solomon was correct when he said, “all is vanity.” We expend great amounts of energy and worry about attaining or allow ourselves to be chained and paralyzed in fear, as we worked doubly hard trying to free ourselves from imaginary, self-created, self limiting obstacles and hazards. But ultimately, just like Job, I came into this world with nothing and will most assuredly also leave it with nothing.

So, if “you can’t take it with you” then what is life all about? How do I know that I am not wasting my limited time on this planet? It’s all about much loftier things like legacy, character, purpose, family, love, thankfulness and impact upon others. It’s certainly about taking the time to smell the roses and to notice and appreciate all the millions of wonders that we see everyday, but take no notice of.

I purposed within myself right then and there to leave a legacy that those that know me will remember me to be honest, loving, generous, loyal, appreciative, humble (ouch), fun, striving for excellence, defender of those too weak to defend themselves, a man that stands for what is right, a man that fully lived and hopefully helped make every person I come in contact with a better person for having known me.

I purposed within myself to not wear a mask as though I have already attained perfection, but to wear the brokenness of someone that knows I’m not, while striving to be a little closer to the mark each day.

I purposed to be better at fulfilling my God given role as father, mate, son, friend, employee, and etcetera.

I purposed to do my very best in everything that I do, but to ease up and forgive myself when I don’t achieve perfection. It is okay to make mistakes and the perpetual embarrassments over my imperfections are not a sign of “high standards” but rather of vain pride.

I purposed within myself to slow down and feast on the banquet called life. Savoring things like the warm, beautiful, playful smile of my girl, the scent of strong coffee, the harmony and emotion of good music, the texture and possibilities of a good book, the warmth and comfort of a sunny afternoon, the enjoyment and intimacy of good company, the reward of a job well done and the blessings of an extremely good life.

It matters not whether the glass is half empty or half full, if one does not at least drink the sweet tea it possesses. We can argue, debate and feel so proud of our academic exercises of rhetoric and analysis all we want, but its vanity if in the end, we’re still thirsty and longing for more.

I thank all my friends and family members that put up with me, now or have put up with me in the past. It certainly can be challenging to put up with me. I know that. And because I know it, it means all the more to me that some have chosen to remain when so many others have not.

I know for a fact that if I am asked five minutes before the moment of my death, what is most important in life and what regrets I had…I will not be discussing material gains such as large houses or cars…not even honors such as jobs or titles. I WILL be talking about people and moments and relationships. I fervently hope that when I’m gone, no one remembers or defines me based upon possessions or even vocational accomplishments/failures. I hope that people simply remember me as being a “good man” that lived well.


About Tom Henry 133 Articles

My Biography

I have been fortunate to have held a number of very interesting and diverse jobs over the years. Those jobs have ranged from being a newspaper reporter (twice), restaurant and retail single unit store manager (numerous), restaurant multi-unit manager, a Christian bookstore manager, an online hospitality management recruiter and pastor. I have been used numerous times to turn troubled stores into profitable stores with double digit increases in sales and national top ten rankings (multiple times). God has gifted me with talents, experiences and spiritual gifting that allows me to get “right to the root of the problem” very quickly.

Additionally, I have three college degrees including a Master of Arts in history from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and Arkansas Northeastern College in Blytheville.

I spend all of my non-work time with the sweetest woman I’ve ever met, Carol. Together we have four children (ranging in age from 19 to 25). She is without a doubt the answer to many years of fervent prayer. I have never been happier than I am now.

In my free time, I enjoy writing, reading, traveling (especially to historic/civil war sites), learning, intellectual discussion and singing/deejaying. Carol and I live an hour north of Memphis and love to go “walking in Memphis, ten feet off of Beale”.

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