Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“You can use most any measure when you’re speaking of success…
You can measure it in a fancy home, expensive car or dress…
But the measure of your real success is one you cannot spend—
It’s the way your child describes you when talking to a friend.”
It had been quite some time since I had seen the movie, Mary Poppins, but there I sat one Saturday not too long ago with my two Granddaughters, Hannah and Ellie Kate, engrossed in the music and characters of that classic movie, parading before us on the television screen at “Mimi’s House.” That’s what they call our home—Mimi’s House—even though I live there too.
Nearing the end of the movie, a scene unfolded before us, as George W. Banks, father of the two little children, Jane and Michael, with head bowed in defeat, walked slowly away from his home late one evening for a meeting at the bank where he worked. He knew he was to be fired when he reached the bank—despite it having been his long-time place of employment. It was his only important identity in life—he had always felt—and it was about to be stripped from him.
And yet as he approached this inevitable crisis of career, a crisis of conscience began to brew within him. Walking past lengthening shadows from the street lamps, through shop-lined alleys and tree-covered walkways, upstairs and down past spires of buildings epitomizing success—the years of tears and smiles and hours of missed moments of the lives of his two little children welled up within him. In the grind of carving out his niche of success and esteem—his identity—among the “successful” in his world, the lives of his children had been slipping between his fingers.
As the movie played on, we continued to watch him wander through the streets toward the bank building, and watching the scenes as George W. Banks wrestled in the grip of memories that had been lost to him, another scene began to unfold before me.
While my younger Granddaughter Ellie Kate took a short break from the movie to inspect the pantry for a snack she could share (yellow marshmallow “Peeps”—as it turned out), Hannah left the couch where she had been sitting, and wordlessly climbed into the chair with me, curling the length of her precious little self—from the top of her head to the tips of her toes—onto my chest and lap. We watched the balance of the movie from there, with Ellie Kate—by then having returned with her chosen snack for us—who had now also ascended into our chair and onto what little chest and lap I had left.
Two scenes—one from the movie and one in our family room. Scenes in which we have all found ourselves at one time or another. Two scenes which present a clear choice for us of the pictures we would paint for the lives of those who have been entrusted to our care. One scene paints a picture which is self-centered—the other scene paints a picture centered on those other lives.
The question for us in the journey of the rest of our lives is—which picture will we choose to paint for our todays and all of our tomorrows? Which will we choose in the cross-country race of lives which are all too often driven by our own intrinsic need for self-worth and affirmation?
An affirmation which we may not have received when we were younger—or even yesterday—from friends who were too self-interested, spouses who were scarred by their own sense of inadequacy, or parents who were absent—physically or emotionally—and from whom we may have learned—wrongly—that there is no rainbow after the rain. But in return for our own affirmation of those who need us—like Hannah and Ellie Kate—we are in return affirmed by them, as they wordlessly crawl into our laps. Funny how that works out.
George W. Banks finally learned—not too late—and emerged from his crisis of conscience with a new and different definition of success. It cost him his job, but gained him his life—the one which the God Who created him had intended for him to live. A life defined by his relationship with those most important people in his life, and not by the things of life, the expectations of others, or a never-ending attempt to obtain the acceptance or affirmation of peers or parents who can’t, won’t, or don’t know how to give it. A life whose success is measured—not by things or others—but by the way your child describes you to others.
There was no one there to take a picture of us this last Saturday—eating Peeps and watching Mary Poppins with my Granddaughters wrapped in my arms and nestled securely on my chest—but I have an indelible rainbow-colored portrait forever painted in my heart.
We have a choice. We always do. And it’s a choice we must make again and again every day. We have in our possession the brushes and the paint.
Which scenes of our lives will we create and remember?
Just something for us all to think about today and every day for the rest of our lives in our journeys on this earth and all the way toward eternity.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2012. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.