Your heart is beating, but are you truly connected to your life? When you wake each morning, do you feel the buzz of potential and excitement? Or do you move from day to day, lost in a swirl of chaos, confusion, interruptions and distractions?
When I saw my friend Debbie Ring walking toward me at church that Sunday morning, I knew even before she spoke that something had happened. She put her hand on my arm as if to comfort me and said, “I’ve got cancer.” She paused to let the words sink in. “It’s stagefour colon cancer. I have six months to live.” The jolt of her words ran through my body like an electric current.
“I’ve got cancer.” Three words. Three terrible words. They hit me with such force that my initial inclination to run from their sting was overcome only by my instinct to protect my friend. I grabbed hold of her and together, we cried.
At home that night, I tried to remember what my life had been like the day before.
Nothing. It was like nothing. I knew then that I had been existing but not really living. I was breathing but not feeling.
How did I feel now? Sadness for my friend swept over me. I felt guilty for allowing life to pass me by. An overwhelming need to wake up shook me. I felt a growing responsibility to live. Debbie’s three dreadful words had drawn a line in the sand in front of me. I knew I had a choice to make: I could choose to continue to move through life completely unaware, or I could choose to wake up.
In August 2001, I took the first step toward awareness. I recognized that something needed to change, but I didn’t know where to go or whom to turn to. You have the potential to live more than eighty years on this earth. How you choose to spend yourtime is one of the most important factors in whether or not you will experience a meaningful life. I have chosen not to allow life to pass me by. I am awake and aware that the choices I make every day determine the quality of life I experience. I am choosing, moment by moment, to spend my time living a life that matters. How will you choose to spend your time?
The doctors told Debbie Ring that she had six months to live. But with courage, modern medicine, faith, and prayer, she lived six more years. Throughout those years, Debbie cherished her time. She lived with purpose and hope. On January 18, 2007, with her daughter lying next to her, and her two boys kneeling at her bedside, her husband, Dan, gently kissed his wife good-bye and said, “Run to Jesus, baby, just run.”
I know that when Debbie passed from this world to the next, she had no regrets. Her family knew she loved them, and her faith gave them hope and courage. That’s what mattered most.
(This post is an edited excerpt from pages 27-31 of The 7 Minute Solution.)
On Friday, April 6th, 2012 I emailed Dan and asked him to send me some pictures. This is word for word the email he sent back to me.
Attached are a few pics. All of these were taken after she had been diagnosed, except for our wedding picture (you knew we were young when we got married) and the picture of her para-sailing (that was the last picture I ever took of her).
When we would go for walks, I used to tell her that I believed God would use her to encourage others. I believed that God was going to use her to reach many. As we walked, I would tell her to close her eyes…, hold my hand…, and don’t let go…, just breathe and believe.
I believed. And I was right. I just didn’t know that it would be you telling her story.
The 7 Minute Solution begins with a line in the sand. If not today, somewhere and at some time – some thing will happen in your life and you instantly become aware that it is time to slow down. This journey began for me in 2001. Don’t let another day pass. Look around you. What do you see? It is time to wake up and rediscover your meaning and purpose in life. It is time to reconnect with the people you love most. It is time to re-think what you believe. Let today be that day.