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Chapter 4: How to Die
You’ve heard that old saying: You can’t take it with you. It usually refers to spending all your money before you die because, well, “you can’t take it with you.”
This chapter, however, is about the things you CAN take with you – but SHOULDN’T.
There’s a line in NarroWay’s “Not Just Another Love Story” delivered by Uncle Zeb which says: “I knew I’d be an old man one day, Willie. Of all the things I’ve got to take to my grave with me, I didn’t want to take a bitter heart.”
We prepare for work, vacations, retirement but, honestly, we can’t be certain of any of these. But one thing is indisputably certain: Death.
One of the obstacles that I have to overcome when coaching a cast member on how to realistically play a specific part is to get them to deliver their lines realistically and not as if they already know what’s coming next.
That’s not good in acting but it is good in life!
In fact, we SHOULD live every day with the mindset that, one day, our life script will read: The End. Hopefully that won’t be soon, but there are some things, like Uncle Zeb, that we don’t want to take to the grave.
POINT 1: GUILT
The definition of guilt is: A feeling of responsibility for some offense, crime or wrong committed.
Guilt is that moral alarm that sets off a penetrating signal when we have done or think we have done something wrong.
Like an alarm clock, you can hit snooze one too many times, then you no longer hear anything. But that’s not what typically happens with guilt.
A person usually carries deep, abiding GUILT right to his or her grave.
Five steps to get rid of your guilt RIGHT NOW.
1. Determine what is making you feel guilty. Is it an offense, crime or wrong you have committed?
2. Confess! ...Now, I’m not one who thinks you should tell the world your personal details, but you MUST tell Jesus! Only tell the offended one if it will FIX the situation. Only tell others if you get a notarized signed note from God!
3. Repair- reimburse, apologize, return - do whatever you can to make restitution for what you have done wrong.
4. Stop doing the wrong thing.
5. Let it go! Do NOT take guilt to your grave.
POINT 2: UNFORGIVNESS
Guilt is what you have done to others. Unforgiveness results from what others have done to you.
Depending on the transgression, this may or may not be so easy. There are offenses that destroy life as we know it. Hard, hard to forgive!
Unforgiveness is a self-inflicted wound resulting from an injury caused by another.
Harm to your reputation, pride, family, feelings, finances, physical well-being – these are the kinds of injuries that another can cause. Another person can cause you harm but they can’t cause unforgiveness. Only you can do that to yourself.
Unforgiveness is the devil’s means of using that injury to destroy you.
Like an addiction, unforgiveness boils and spews deep inside of us, slowly killing us, all the while giving us a debauched sense of satisfaction.
Forgive! Though it may not fix the harm which was done to you, it will, at the least, allow the healing to begin.
Do NOT take UNFORGIVENESS to your grave.
POINT 3: REGRETS
This brings us back to that line we mentioned taken from NarroWay’s “Not Just Another Love Story.”
Live like you know you’ll be an old man someday.
In light of death ...
I’ll never regret missing a television program.
I’ll never regret having missed Sunday afternoon naps.
But I do regret not listening to my dad’s stories, even though I had heard them before.
I regret not making it home for the family portrait my mom scheduled, even though it was right after my first chemotherapy treatment. Little did I know, there would never be another.
I do regret making fun of a boy on the school bus. We called him, “Stinky.” We played a trick on him. Oh, to God, that I knew his real name and could tell him how sorry I am.
I regret the friends I might have led down the wrong path. ... Forgive me.
Me too. Forgive me, friends.
Most likely, nobody will go to their grave saying, “I regret I ate that piece of cake.”
Possibly the opposite!
I was asked once to share ONE piece of Life Wisdom with graduating seniors. I thought long and hard on it. Finally I wrote:
“In time, no regrets!”
You see, time puts everything in perspective.
So, every decision you make regarding yourself,
your relationship with God,
do it with this in mind:
“I knew I’d be an old man one day.”
... Sooner, than later.
And, my friend, that’ll preach.
LET’S BE HONEST: (Applying Truth to Real Life)
1. Take out a scrap paper and list the things you feel guilty about.
A) Now, go back and draw a line through all of those things on your list that are not an offence, crime or wrong-doing.
2. The remaining items on your list are things that, if you CAN make them right, you MUST. If you can’t, then confess them to GOD now, and ask Him to forgive you and to show you what He would have you do to make it right.
3. On your paper, write the wrongs that have been done to you in the past.
A) Now, go back and draw a line through all the things on that list that are petty or that you have genuinely forgiven.
4. The remaining items on that list are things that you MUST release from the devil’s grip. Regardless of the attitude of the offenders, FORGIVE them.
5. On your paper, write all the weighty regrets you have. Leave writing space between each of the regrets as you list them.
A) Now, go back over that list and draw a line through regrets that you can no longer correct.
B) Put an X beside any regrets which, IN TIME bear no consequence.
6. Take the remainder of the regrets one by one on your list. In the space, write the specific action(s) needed so that you can remove or reconcile these weighty regrets from your life.
7. One by one, take the actions needed. Do NOT take REGRETS to your grave.