Have you ever been trying to get somewhere, such as in a different city, state, or country? Did you have a map? Did you speak the language so that you could ask? We’ve all been in this situation. Some of us are born with a compass in our heads, some are born without one. This compass might be for direction-NESW direction – or it might be for one’s path through life. Do we need a map?
What makes the difference in someone who is well educated, well-adjusted, clean, articulate, talented, musical etc. AND one who is illiterate, dirty, poor, hounded by collectors, kicked out of apartments, and ‘kicked out’ of all polite, decent society?
I have a sister who just dealt all summer with a renter of this latter category. He is married and raising 2 grandchildren. His son lives with them also, who smokes non-stop. The head of the household is a hoarder, he’s dirty, smelly and greasy – and 70 years old. He was several months behind in his rent and the place was a mess–old cars parked on the lawn – you get the picture.
No one starts out in life thinking this is how they’ll end up, much less wanting to. Did this man follow a map for life? Or has he just wandered around wherever life took him?
I know a man who is around 40 and started using drugs when he was 14. He graduated from high school because his parents stayed on top of it. He has some college. He’s been married twice and is now divorced with two young children for which he has full custody. His emotional health has been jeopardized; he has a few skills for life but insufficient education and training. His spiritual life is difficult for him because he did not establish those habits and that lifestyle when he was young. Life, for him, is an uphill battle and struggle.
It was once pointed out to me in a class, that the most important decisions and direction for life are determined by the time a person is 20-21 years of age. This period of time is when someone has learned life skills. How to be a father or mother; how to manage a home; how to manage money and time; how to cook, clean, sew, mend, and nurture for women (Julie B. Beck said that the key to nurturing is homemaking skills) – and for the men, how to repair items in a home and yard; how to earn a living; how to be a good husband and father; how to function well in society by being a giver and producer rather than a taker and a destroyer.
It takes learning, observation and action to become a strong individual and to build a strong family. This, in turn, builds strong children and grandchildren. This, in turn, builds a strong culture and society.
This is where we get back to our maps and compass. This is where principles and values come in. There are some things we do and are: honest, faithful to God and family, industrious, cheerful, generous, educated, clean, reverent, loving, considerate, courteous, dependable, kind, courageous, disciplined, grateful, responsible, refined, and patient.
When we don’t have (or use) our maps and compass, we are lost, dishonest, selfish, angry, immoral, drug/alcohol/tobacco dependent, illiterate, broke, lazy, disrespectful, rude, inconsiderate, cowardly, hateful, dirty, etc.
How we end up when we’re 40 or 70 years old all depends on what maps we used and the compass we consulted. There can be mid-course corrections, and thank goodness. It’s seldom too late, but the sooner we get back on course, the better.
We can conclude that strong families become our map and compass for life. Wrecked families provide little direction and purpose. There are certainly exceptions in both situations, but the odds favor the strong families.