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When I was a young man my parents were dedicated to having our family have one evening every week that we would spend together. We could play games, go to movies, enjoy the park, learn dinner etiquette, or do anything else as long as we were together. For us, that night was Monday night. You can imagine then the struggle my parents had trying to come up with some new activity every week that would entertain five different children from the ages of six to sixteen.
One of the ways they put together activities that they knew we would like was to ask us for our suggestions. Often my dad would put the question to us just after dinner on Sunday. He set it up perfectly. He would ask us for an idea for the following night’s family activity and if we didn’t provide one, we didn’t get dessert. Now I don’t care if you’re six or sixteen everyone wants dessert.
I will never forget one such night during the year following my diving accident. My dad informed us that he was going to go around the table and ask us what we wanted to do the following evening. That night he decided to go from oldest to youngest. Being the oldest, he turned to me and asked for my input. I gave it to him and when I did my mom placed my dessert in front of me. I was excited about this.
My father then turned to my sister is just younger than I, asked her the same question, and with her response she too received her dessert. The pattern continued until my dad reached my youngest brother Nathan. Nate was just six and so probably didn’t get listened to as much as he should have been in the first place. Add to that the fact that we were all seriously dedicated to our desserts, the only people really paying attention to Nathan’s response were my parents.
My dad asked Nate, “What should we do for tomorrow night’s family activity?” Nathan looked at him with a surety that only a six-year-old can possess and replied, “I want to teach Jason how to walk.”
You’d think that a statement like that would get my attention. But I was focused on y food so my mom’s dessert kept my full attention. My mom and dad however, were listening to Nathan’s every word. “How are we going to do that?” my dad questioned. Completely and totally sure of himself Nathan replied, “We’ll stand him up, and let him go.”
This got my attention. My dessert couldn’t hold my interest any longer. I began to imagine my head getting the kitchen linoleum floor. Concerned I said, “Well Nathan, what if I fall?” To which he replied, “We’ll stand you up and do it again.”
By this point, the entire family was listening to Nathan’s idea for Monday night’s family activity. We all chuckled at the thought eventually decided on one of the other ideas and went to bed.
That night as I laid in bed I began to think about what Nathan had said. I had been in a wheelchair for less than a year. You might only imagine the pleas, wishes, and prayers that were offered up by my family in hopes that my condition would be reversed. There was nothing that any member of my family wanted more than for me to walk.
Nathan however was tired of hoping and ready to act. He didn’t want to just wish anymore. He wanted to do. He wanted to actively pursue this grand desire.
We must follow Nathan’s example and act. Nathan believed that I could walk again. But he also knew (the way only a six-year-old could) that believing wouldn’t be enough. He had to act on his beliefs
When there are things that we want in our lives we have to do more than just wish them to be, for no matter how hard we try to wish things into our lives, wishing alone won’t make them so. We have to marry action to our hope. When we put hope and action together we get real power. This power enables us to make broad sweeping changes in our lives for the better.
Besides, who’s to say that, if that night I had had the courage and willingness to act that Nathan did, he wouldn’t have been right.