Discover Who You Could Be
There once was a man who loved his wife and every morning for the last decade, he would arise at 7am, pick fresh flowers from his garden and bring them to his wife.
One day, the man woke up to find his grandson sitting in his kitchen sipping coffee. He could see the look of the youth in his eyes: full of anxious doubt. The old man could tell that the boy had come to him with a question. But not one bit of urgency entered the man’s soul.
He simply poured himself a cup of coffee, sat down and asked the boy what was on his mind. That’s all it took for the boy to spend the next hour pouring his heart out to his grandfather. The man listened deeply to the boy and asked a few clarifying questions along the way but offered no words of advice.
The boy told his grandfather about the young woman he was seeing, how he felt about her but how uncertain he was about the future. He told him about the job he had, all of the good things about it. The security, the benefits, the career path. And he told him of the job he really wanted that few succeeded in and how it would run contrary to the expectations everyone around him had of him. And he spoke of a fear that the world around him would discover the depths of his imperfections.
Finally the boy sighed, put his head down, and softly asked, “What if I’m just not cut out for any of this?”
It was as if the old man had just watched his grandson cut his chest wide open and expose the rawness of his heart. The old man was happy. Not at the stress of his grandson. But at the gift of being trusted with such an important moment in his life.
The two sat together in silence for some time until the old man stood up, placed his hand on the boy’s shoulder and said, “Come, follow me.”
“What about everything I just said?” the boy asked.
The old man didn’t respond. He simply proceeded out to the garden like he did every day. Every day for ten years.
In silence he plucked the flowers from the garden he so meticulously kept up, handing them to the boy one by one to hold. In silence they drove to see the old man’s wife and the boy’s grandmother. In silence the boy placed the flowers gently on her grave. And in silence the old man knelt before the grave of his wife and gently placed a kiss on her tombstone.
After a long time, the boy broke the silence. “You do this every day, right?”
“Because I’m forever ashamed that I didn’t do it while she was alive.”
The old man turned to look at his grandson. A boy who looked so much like him that it startled the man sometimes. Tears welled up in his eyes but they never fell as he spoke.
“Failure is the foolish man’s fear. You will fail. You will succeed. You will be astounded by your own inadequacies at times. You will also be in awe at your own triumphs. That’s life. But the wise man doesn’t fear failure. The wise man fears regret. And in life there is only one thing anyone ever truly regrets.”
The tears fell now as the old man looked off in the distance.
“You see, I don’t really regret not bringing her flowers. I really regret being unwilling to become the kind of man who brings flowers to his wife every day. Become who you could be and all of your questions will take care of themselves.”
With that the old man started back toward the car.
In this week's Gospel, Jesus heals ten lepers. Ten human beings receive a gift of extraordinary proportion. But that gift is so much more than physical healing. You see, every time Jesus heals someone in the Gospels he isn't just making them physically well. He is offering them the chance to move beyond what has held them back and become the person they were made to be. He's opening the door to a new kind of life. That's why it's so sad and so moving that only one of the lepers returns and recognizes the true gift Jesus has given. Only one is willing to be transformed on the inside by Jesus.
In your life, you may be healed of your ailment. You may not. Your prayers may be answered in the way you want. They may not. What matters infinitely more is whether or not you are willing to let God use the events of your life to draw out the fullness of your potential.
Sure, in one way the lesson of this week is, be grateful. Give thanks to God as the giver of all good things. To not do so is to be rude and selfish and being rude and selfish are not exactly the greatest aspirations in the world.
On a deeper level though, the lesson is, you have choice. You can be the kind of person who never allows what happens to you and for you to change who you are on the inside for the better. Or you can be the kind of person with the humility and the awareness to collaborate with God in the transformation from who you are to who you were made to be.