Have you ever had someone make a big difference in your life?
Do they know?
Frequently we so quickly and quietly move on with our lives that we miss the opportunity to share our gratitude for all someone else did for us. Let me explain.
Shortly after college I bought my first home.
A couple of my buddies lived with me and paid me rent. We had a back yard, wooden deck, hot tub, barbecue pit…basically everything a twenty-something guy could want!
My brother Jim called shortly after I closed on it. He wondered if he could live with us for a few weeks while transitioning from a house he was renting into one he planned on purchasing. He was a successful attorney and my only brother; I was happy to have him move in for a while.
On July 3, 1999 with temperatures in triple digits and humidity so high it made breathing a chore, I helped Jim move.
Now, I’ve worked mowing lawns as a kid, bailing hay as a farmhand in high school, and remodeling distressed properties after college. I’ve endured various other labor-intensive jobs, but I’ve never worked as hard or for as little as the day I moved him in.
We carried his workout equipment, a giant wooden bar, a pool table, furniture and bags and bags of junk. After a brutal day in the heat, we finally finished.
Jim took a quick walk through his old house to make sure we grabbed all of his stuff. That’s when he saw his Christmas decorations hiding in the corner of the basement: Wooden reindeer, light strands, a box of ornaments and a giant Santa Clause. He called me over, handed me a few boxes of lights and one of the reindeer, looked at me and said, “Man, this stuff is going to look amazing at our Christmas parties.”
Christmas parties? It’s freaking July, Jim. You’ll be in your real home before September. Right?
Well, a “few weeks” turned into three years.
Three years of fighting over the television remote control and leftovers. Laughter and great memories. Watching sports and wrestling matches. Going out and staying in. Hosting family gatherings and, yes, Christmas parties.
In other words, three years of living like brothers again.
And not once during the three years we lived together did we ever talk about the fire that defined my childhood, and changed our lives. Not once during the three years we lived together did we acknowledge to each other, or the three other roommates, that Jim was much more than a brother. He was my lifesaver, he was my hero, and that I wouldn’t be alive without him.
You see, there are so many individuals responsible for me successfully surviving a childhood fire that should have killed me – the paramedics, doctors, nurses, technicians, community. There are countless individuals who helped inspire me to thrive afterwards – my parents, therapists, Jack Buck, classmates.
Yet none of them would have had an opportunity to do their job, give their time, offer their prayers or encourage me forward had it not been for Jim’s heroism the day I was burned. As I stood in the front hall burning as a child, he’s the one who picked up a rug, he beat down the flames, he risked his life, he burned himself and he saved my life.
And I never even fully acknowledged it.
Well, I have now and it’s brought us closer together as brothers and as friends.
This holiday season is certain to reunite you with old friends and distant family members; office parties and intimate family gathering.
You’ll have encounters with people who have made a difference in your life, some profoundly, others in passing. But rather than talking sports, or weather, or what the market did today, choose to participate in conversations that breathe life and possibility into the moment; conversations that truly matter.
Choose to thank them for who they are and what they mean to you.
Choose to realize that silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone, but shared gratitude sets others on fire for life. [Tweet this.]
This is your day. Live inspired.
Who have you been silently grateful for, for too long? Share your gratitude in the comments below. I can’t wait to celebrate all of the special people in our lives together.