Exactly where we need to be


By Betty J. Slade | PREVIEW Columnist

Is this where we’ve come?

I’ve heard some of my peers voice their disappointment in life. Life didn’t turn out how they expected. Did they see it coming at them, hitting them in the face with reality? No. But they are exactly where they need to be in the next stage of their lives, good, bad or indifferent. 

I looked out over a group of writers, two-thirds between 60 and 95 years of age. In their lifetime, they have hit some high watermarks. They’ve stolen the limelight, influenced others in their careers, even acquired great wealth. They now sit in a writers’ group on Monday mornings learning how to be good writers. It might seem to them they are in a lesser place in life, chalking up time, nothing left to do.

Did we think we’d end up alone, losing a mate early in life, living on Social Security, in a one-room apartment or a rest home with health issues? Some are still taking care of their elderly parents and one day their children will be taking care of them.

An 80-year-old writer voiced his concern. He wants to finish strong, but writing all day makes him feel like there’s got to be more to life. He said, “Writing is hard work. I don’t know if I want to spend my last days writing. Will anyone even read what I have written?”

This writer has four college degrees, taught at the university, been an attorney and traveled to 150 countries. He’s questioning his last days on this earth as lesser than how he lived them.

I see stories only he can write. Will people read them? I don’t know. Life is never what we expect. Maybe it’s not about the accomplishments of this world, but changing our focus to the reality of who we are and whose lives we’ve touched.

Tim Tebow will never be known as the greatest football quarterback. He tried. No one worked harder at training and practice than Tebow. He was the recipient of the Heisman Trophy. He had John 3:16 painted in black on his cheeks and bowed in prayer after a victory. I took notice of how daring he was about his faith in open public.

I knew about Tebow through our grandsons. Tebow’s career came along exactly at the right time for our grandsons. Slade and Creede were playing football at Pagosa Springs High School. Tebow was their role model. He set an example as to how our boys should act: be respectful, work hard, be polite and smart.

For our grandson’s 16th birthday, all he wanted was to go to a Gators’ game in Florida. His dad took him to see Tebow play. To this day, he is still a Gator fan.

When it seemed Tebow’s football career was waning, some of the adoration that our grandsons had for him lost its shine. The world was giving their opinion about Tebow. No one wants to hear bad things about their hero. I prayed for Tebow, afraid he might fall and spiral down into the world’s addictions. It would’ve had a devastating outcome on our grandsons. They would’ve seen him as phony.

I remember how mad I was at John Elway when he traded Tebow. I was on my high horse about it. After all, he was the kids’ role model. Why would Elway do that? My son-in-law said, “Because Tebow isn’t that good.”

How dare he say that. But there was another factor that had developed in the life of Tim Tebow. At 15 years old, Tebow went on a mission trip to the Philippines. He saw a boy named Sherwin who couldn’t walk. His feet were on backward. That moment changed Tebow’s focus. That encounter with Sherwin inspired the Tim Tebow Foundation. He wanted to become a voice for the voiceless.

With the first million he received when he signed a contract with NFL, he built a hospital in the Philippines. He’s a part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He’s built houses for the homeless. Now a motivational speaker, he’s written books, his football career has afforded him worldwide recognition and invitations to speak. He is becoming known as a great humanitarian.

So, how does that apply to us and our lives? What is our Sherwin moment when God touched our lives in a profound way and changed our focus to what really is important?

My own career showed me disappointment; I’ve experienced the fickleness of the world’s praise and rejection. The world said I wasn’t that good. The world also taught me dissatisfaction and showed me the most important things in life are family, friends and my walk with the Lord.

At a family night dinner, I said to my grandson, “Football season is almost here.” 

He said, “Will you watch the Gator games with me?” 

I replied, “Of course, I will.” 

Those simple words from my grandson told me someone I love wanted to be with me. I was exactly where I needed to be in life.

And, yes, I’m writing all the time. And, yes, it’s hard work. My words will be my legacy. The same grandson said, “I’ve been reading your book, ‘Taming Wild Horses.’ I like it.” Thank you, Lord. This is what it’s all about.

Final brushstroke: Don’t count yourself out. You are exactly where you need to be. Take advantage of what your career afforded you, disappointment or not. Write your stories, stay young for your grandchildren and be relevant to whomever and wherever God has called you.

Send your comment to bettyslade.author@gmail.com.

Views expressed do not necessarily represent those of The SUN.