I spent my 46th birthday at my elderly uncle’s funeral. I know to some that sounds really morbid.
My son Reuben was completely aghast at the thought. If that wasn’t bad enough, I spent the day after my birthday at another funeral, this time of a friend who died at the relatively young age of 50.
As you can imagine, being at a funeral is always a great time for reflection. Even more so, when it’s also your birthday.
I deliberately didn’t respond to the hundreds of messages I got via Facebook (1 friend told me off because she couldn’t post on my wall 😊), instant messenger, text, phone calls and also the odd birthday card provided by Judy & the kids!
Many days laters as I read the messages, reflected and responded, I came to a realization…
I may be bald headed and grey bearded with my six pack not visible to the naked eye, but I can truly say, I am the happiest I have ever been!
Is that because everything is perfect? On the contrary, challenges abound but in my time here on planet earth, I realized that it takes much more than happy circumstances and having a whole heap of stuff to derive and drive our happiness.
Here are 7 things that do it for me:
- I have FAITH
I know at the mere mention of that word most people start thinking of religious fundamentalism. That is not the kind of faith I mean.
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Hebrews, summed it up like this… ‘Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of what we cannot see’ (Hebrews 11:1 NLT)
Being the son of a Pastor, I guess you could say I was born into faith. However, over time, I’ve experienced my own relationship with Jesus. His life and what he did for humanity provides an eternal example of how to live my life. On purpose.
That is something that transcends religion!
- I have FAMILY
I’ve had the privilege of growing up in a great family. My idea of being a father and a husband was as a result of having a great example from my Dad.
My Dad is from a family of 9 and my Mum from a family of 13. We are a big family!
At my uncles funeral, I reflected on how much stability I derive from my family. Even though I live over 4000 miles from my Dad & over 100 miles from most of my family, I only have to pick up the phone or see them in person to realize that there is unconditional love and a family pride that will always be there.
Every time I see them I am left in no doubt that I am loved!
- I have FRIENDS
At the second funeral, I met up with many friends who I hadn’t seen for about 5 years. One, in particular, is always as crazy as I am. As soon as we saw each other, we burst out laughing and he stopped the vehicle he was driving jumped out and we hugged like to crazy brothers realizing how much we meant to each other.
According to TD Jakes an American preacher, author and entertainment pioneer, we have 3 types of friends:
- Confidants; who support you and are always there for you no matter what
- Constituents; who are supported by you and are there for what you provide
- Comrades; who are against what you’re against and united in a common cause
The trick is to know who is who, so that you don’t have unrealistic expectations from your friendships.
I have been blessed by friends in every capacity and my expectations are in line with where I’ve assessed they sit in the arena of my life.
- I have FOCUS
I am a husband, a father, a son, a brother, an uncle, a nephew, a friend, an entrepreneur, an employer, a volunteer and a mentor.
Each role has a different ‘deposit demand’ and expectation and I have to ensure that my values and vision for my life and the life of others I serve, are consistent!
Judy, Leah & Reuben, rightly, have high expectations of me and take their cues from me. That is an awesome responsibility which can sometimes be overwhelming. I have learnt, though, that being the best version of me is the perfect antidote! That means not being perfect but being purposeful. Being authentic.
- I have (a sense of the) FUTURE
One of the things I try to do is to learn from the past, lead in the present and lean into the future.
I am acutely aware that all the talents, abilities, gifting and skills I have are all for a reason. So, I am always challenging myself and wanting to experience growth in every area of my life.
Does that mean that it always goes to plan? Absolutely not!
When that happens, I look at the big picture and realize that, while I may not be where I want to be, I am certainly further than I was. That frees me up to enjoy and acknowledge the many blessings of today.
- I have FUN
Ok, I must admit that I am not always great at this.
Life in the Tomlin household is always a big juggling act of various responsibilities and demands. However, the great thing about having kids is they have their own focus and it’s usually not as lofty as that of their parents.
Going to watch a film, playing a card game, kicking a football around the garden or playing host to their teenage friends score far higher on their agenda. This provides a great source of laughs and provides a great distraction from the stresses of the various roles.
- I have FITNESS
This is like the gravy embracing the meal of life or the custard flowing on life’s apple pie 😊
I have surmised that there are 7 areas of fitness that make life not just healthy but balanced.
- Spiritual – Being able to connect to someone and something bigger than me
- Emotional – Being able to identify and manage my emotions and influence the emotions of others.
- Mental – Being able to navigate the challenges and opportunities by creating solutions
- Physical – Being in a great state of health with an active lifestyle
- Social – Being able to relate to and impact others in an appropriate way
- Financial – Being able to plan and execute my earning, spending, saving, giving and investing on purpose
- Organizational – Being able to gather & galvanize people around a cause or idea
I reckon it took me 46 years to be able to write this but I think each year the big picture will become clearer as I strive to keep smiling and continue to be thankful, grateful and mindful for and of the many blessings of life!
Is this something that resonates?
- I have FERRARI…
…NOT! Unfortunately, I have met too many people who lose the things above in pursuit of this one, only to find it is not as fulfilling as they had hoped or bring as much joy as the other things on the list.
Besides, it would simply drive Judy up the wall… and as they say, ‘a happy wife is a happy life!’ 😝
God bless and here’s to another year!