Episode 1. Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
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At school – they teach us the three R’s – reading, writing & arithmetic. But who teaches us about life – sometimes, it seems that we leave all that to chance. As Forrest Gump once …
At school – they teach us the three R’s – reading, writing & arithmetic. But who teaches us about life – sometimes, it seems that we leave all that to chance. As Forrest Gump once said – Life is like a box of chocolates….
Have you ever seen the movie Forrest Gump? It begins with a white feather up in the sky, floating through the breeze. You know how a fine white feather dances in the breeze, wafting along and giving a sense of life being random. It wafts along, further down, and lands on Forrest Gump’s right foot. Forrest is sitting on a bench, waiting for a bus by a park, and right from the beginning, you can obviously see that the man is simple. People come and sit on the bench, and he talks to them. Some of them want to talk, while others don’t. He tells his life story and offers them a chocolate. It’s a beautiful movie, a must-see. Through the story, you discover that Forrest has been dealt a pretty rotten hand in life. You and I, we have some good and bad things happen to us, but Forrest is simple. His dad died early, and a bunch of really bad things have happened to him along the way. If we look back at our lives, we can remember the good things. We look at our moms and dads, and most of us can say that they gave us some really good things, did things for us, and loved us. But there were also some bad things that got handed down to us, maybe a personality trait that we wish we didn’t have, but we do. We look at our dad or mom and think, ‘I know where I got that from.’ Maybe we have insecurities because we weren’t loved properly, or we have anger or sexual dysfunction because we were never shown any affection. So, we can’t show affection to our loved ones. Maybe we had great parents, but somehow, they never taught us to listen to other people, work through struggles, or understand collaboration. These life skills, they were good parents, but their parents never taught them those things, the stuff about how to live life. It’s like a box of chocolates, it depends on who we got for parents.
Not so long ago, I did a TV interview, and when I watched the video later, I was shocked to see a man sitting there talking. That was me, an absolute spitting image of my dad. I had no idea. I looked at myself and thought, ‘That’s my dad.’ People say to me, ‘You walk like your father walked,’ and he had some really strong points that he handed down to me, but he also had some weaknesses. As I grew up, I discovered two things. First, I happen to be very fortunate in that I’m intellectually very smart. I discovered that when I was in school, my grades were always really good, and I was always near the top of the class. But I also discovered that I didn’t have some of the people skills that I needed. I’m not naturally a good listener. Naturally, when I was growing up, because I’m a talker – so I’m doing what I’m doing now – I discovered that I talked over the top of people and really didn’t listen to what was going on inside them, in their hearts, their needs, the deep things. I wasn’t strong in collaboration. I grew up thinking, ‘Well, Bernie, you’re pretty clever. You can do this on your own. You can roll over the top of other people.’ So, collaboration and consultation, I just wasn’t very good at those things. And I’ll tell you, I was very much into knee-jerk reactions. When a curveball came at me, I would have these knee-jerk reactions and get angry at people. So, I discovered that these people skills, these life skills, in me were not as good as they needed to be. I didn’t discover that because of good or bad grades at school. I discovered that in the school of Hard Knocks, through life. That school of Hard Knocks was about failures, crashes, broken relationships, and it was a bit like that white feather, you know, that phenomenon in Forrest Gump, that sense of randomness and chance. It seemed like a luck thing.
But in my work, I all of a sudden met someone who would be my mentor, someone who, through life, would teach me some of the life skills that I needed to have. He was very bright, his name is Graham, and he and I are on the same wavelength. We formed a consulting firm together, and over the years, he would sit me down and say, “Bernie, in that meeting we were just in with that client, do you know you didn’t listen? Do you know that you talked over the top of them? Do you realize that you did this and that there’s another way of looking at things, another way of doing this?” So, he invested over a period of 20 years, teaching into my life. I am forever changed and forever grateful for that investment.
The art of mentorship, an older man mentoring a younger man, or an older woman mentoring a younger woman, seems to be a lost art in our society. If you are an older man or an older woman with wisdom, I would strongly encourage you, whether it’s with your kids, someone you work with, or a friend’s son or daughter, to invest in them as their mentor, to guide, advise, help, and help them grow.
Somewhere through all of that, I came to faith in Jesus. I met this Jesus guy and came to a saving faith in God. And by that, I mean I don’t just believe, I know. I know that I am forgiven by God in Jesus Christ, and because of what he did for me on the cross, I have eternal life. It’s nothing I did. I just met this Jesus and was so excited when he came into my life, and I’ve given my life to him. I look back on those ups and downs, on my parents, mom and dad who did a whole bunch of good things, on the gaps somehow in my life skills, on that school of Hard Knocks and the pain involved in those Hard Knocks, on Jesus coming into my life, and on this mentor, Graham, who came into my life to bless me. It looked random at first, it looked a bit like the breeze that blew the feather, but I discovered that there was a hand behind all of that. It wasn’t like a box of chocolates at all. In all that randomness, there was a steady guiding hand, guiding, helping, and steering, just at the right time, speaking.
Psalm 27 verse 10 says, “Although my father and mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord God will adopt me as his child.”
Now, I’ve never been forsaken by my mom and dad, but we all end up with some gaps growing up, and some people are forsaken by their parents. The most unexpected thing of all is that God is in that space, that God has his hand in our lives. Jesus has this wonderful learning for life. It’s never too late.
This week and next week, on a different perspective, we’re going to be looking at a whole bunch of things, like the blind spots we have in our inability to listen, our inability to communicate and collaborate, and dealing with uncertainty. All of those life skill things that sometimes we miss out on. We’ll be looking at them from a different perspective. Join me. It’s not by chance that you and I are together today. And even if your father and mother had forsaken you, yet God will adopt you as his child.