Two friends are having birthdays today. There is only one other day of the year where I know two people sharing birthdays, so today in itself is unique. As I have reflected on their lives this week, appreciating their friendship and the memories that we share, I find myself caught in a different reflection.
On the surface, there is little that the casual observer would think that they have in common. Beneath the surface, each carries his story with him. Both have lived life on the edge. They have candidly told of the choices and circumstances that took them there, making no excuses for the ways that they exercised their freedom. Both have turned from away from the darkness in life to one of making a difference.
I am a better person for their friendship. As I look at their lives, I see hope, courage, and the possibility of change. There are three keys that their steps remind me to carry with me.
Life is never about a paragraph or chapter. It is about the story, the complete story. In their unique way, they have taken what they have and learned from what Life would teach them. In a way, they have taken the chapters in life and worked with them. Like “Jesus—the Divine Christ! He experienced a life-giving birth and a death-killing death. Not only birth from the womb, but baptismal birth of his ministry and sacrificial death.” (1 John 5.6) Each used their events to learn, grow, and make a difference.
Life can be cruel and painful. This aspect of life need not define who and what you are. These individuals have seen life’s ugly side. This knowledge has not reduced their optimism. The experiences have not prevented them from helping others.
Life is about today. We have the opportunity to live and make a difference. We can act. Our opportunities are here; we can do something with what we have.
Happy birthday guys! Thanks for making a difference to those around you. Thanks for passing on the courage to reach for more.