Keep the right company

By David WilliamsBy David Williams

 “David, you should never do a half job.”
    “David, you have got to learn to be on time.”
    “David, never give up.”
    “David, your goodness is not good enough.”
    “David, you must be careful, because there are those who are waiting for you to mess up.”
    “David, if you want to be a good athlete you must practice often.”
    “David, you must love and forgive others.
    “David, when working on cars, remember safety first.”
    “David, you must…”
    Those are just a few of many words of wisdom that I have received during the years.
    I realize I have been a most fortunate man. In my lifetime I have had individuals take the time to invest in my life. I am forever in their debt. Donna Morley refers to them as “friends that sharpen.”
    The Bible states: “Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honored.”
    When I was in high school, I went through a period of saying bad words.
    For some reason, I convinced myself that if I added some colorful metaphors to my vocabulary, I would feel more like a grown-up or at least like my peers.
    It did not take long for me to master some nice phrases and choice words.
    One day I was hanging out with a close friend of mine. He was a Christian and I was not.
    The conversation took a moral turn. Feeling certain that it was only a matter of time before my morals were called into question, I spoke up.
    “I’m not a bad person. I volunteered. I don’t steal or kill. I’m a nice guy. “
    My best friend looked at me for a moment before he spoke.
    “Yeah, David but you say bad words. You cannot deny that.”
In that instant, I saw myself through the eyes of my Christian friend, and I didn’t like what I saw.
    He was right, of course, I couldn’t deny that. Somehow the right words spoken by the right person at the right time convinced me. My friend was someone who I loved and whose respect I desired. For him to have me ‘dead to rights’ bothered me.
    To wit, I took inventory of myself. Instead of trying to justify my words, I acknowledged he was right. I was being “sharpened.” I realized that I said bad words most often whenever I was playing sports. I vowed to either stop cussing or stop competing. From that day on every time I played sports instead of saying a bad word I would say, “Good night, “good grief” or even “good ice-cream.”
    It wasn’t long before my peers started using my new catch phrase. My new habit made me feel better about myself. To be honest, the bad words never really suited me or felt right. I was forcing it. I was a new kid at a new school in a new state, trying to fit in.
    There have been numerous examples of individuals who held me to a higher level of accountability. Those people risked rejection and uncomfortableness to set me straight.
    I am reminded of the farmer who each year tried to get his mule into the Kentucky Derby without success.
    When asked if he really thought his mule could win the race, the farmer replied, “No, I just believe the association might do him some good.”

 
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