Perusing through the channels a few weeks ago, hubs and I stumbled upon an interview on PBS that captured us.
The subject? 112 year old Walter Breuning of Great Falls, Montana—the oldest living man in the United States.
Mr. Breuning has lived through 21 presidents, the Great Depression, Civil Rights Movement…and many historical moments. It was fascinating to hear this centenarian speak of his experiences.
But there was one exchange that really struck us.
The interviewer, William Marcus of Montana Public Television, asked, “How would you counsel future generations to be a part of their country?”
Mr. Breuning responded, “Everybody learns from life what’s going on. And if they pay attention to everything that people do, especially helping people, that’s one big thing. A lot of people think they’re born for themselves; I don’t think that. I believe that we’re here to help other people all the way through.”
To help other people all the way through.
Sometimes it feels like it will take me 112 years to realize—I mean truly realize–this truth.
This truth is part of the substance of the very last chapter in our study of Jennifer Rothschild’s book: Self Talk, Soul Talk.
Our last chapter is entitled, Lift Up: Praise the Lord, O My Soul.
Through a couple of sweet stories and a revealing heart exam, Jennifer reminds me of my natural tendency toward selfishness–how I tend to think of myself and those I love before others.
After that tight clenching feeling of conviction, I truly felt Jennifer’s desire to reveal to me that God’s plan is better.
“…I can say for sure that the most miserable times of my life have been when I was the most self-centered, self-aware, and self-promoting. Those were the times I told myself, It’s all about me.”
“Selfish people are not happy people,” she tells her sons.
And I have to agree.
It amazes me how God lines up truths to drive a point home for me.
I am reading about this very thing in the book, Make the Impossible Possible by Bill Strickland, our Higher Calling Book Club book.
In this amazing story, the author states (about creating a jobs training center and community arts program for an at-risk community), “…I didn’t do any of it out of selflessness. I did it to be myself. I did it to enrich my own life, to deepen the quality and meaning of my own experience. I did it because it was a part of what I had to do if I genuinely wanted to be me.”
The author recognizes that giving of ourselves, as Jennifer puts it, “…keeps us connected to God’s creativity and compassion.”
Jennifer hints to us that lifting up others and lifting up praise to God just may be the secret to happiness.
“When we lift up others we grow smaller. And ultimately, as we lift up God, we find unlimited satisfaction in our own lowliness.”
Jennifer quotes one of my favorite C.S. Lewisisms: “…A proud man is always looking down on things and people and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”
I must say that I’m a little sad to say goodbye to this book study. It has been a precious walk with you, my friends. Thank you, Lelia, for hosting us and spurring us on. And thank you so much, Jennifer, for being an encourager of our souls.