Some Things Cannot Be Taken Back

When I was in the first or second grade, I got a Mickey Mouse wristwatch for Christmas. It was so unexpected and I was so happy with it, that I wore it night and day. I just couldn’t wait to wear it on my first day back to school after the Christmas vacation. Just a few days later, when I was in the tub taking a bath, I discovered that I had not removed the watch from my wrist. The watch was not waterproof and I could see water under the crystal. Repairing it would cost more than it was worth. Needless to say, I was heartbroken, and never wore the watch again.

When I graduated from high school, my parents bought me the first suit I ever had. It was grey with a few darker threads in the fabric. I was so proud of that suit, that I really looked forward to graduation to wear it. When the day came, it was overcast and rained most of the day. After the graduation services, we went home, and as I ran for the house to escape the rain, I slipped on the wet brick pavement and fell, tearing the knee out of the trousers of my new suit. They were ruined beyond repair. I had worn that beautiful suit for the first and last time, all on the same day.

There are many things in life that happen, the consequences of which can never be changed. Whether the occurrence is accidental or intentional, does not matter. We have no alternative but to live with the results. Thousands of lives were inalterably changed by the hatred of a few fanatics on September 11, 2001. None of those murdered by the cowardly acts of Islamic terrorists, did anything to deserve what happened that day. Still, wish and pray as we might, we cannot change the fact that the painful loss of so many will be carried to the grave by friends, families and even bystanders.

As with my wristwatch and my trousers, the results of my actions were irreversible. And as with the massacre on 9-11, the results of others’ actions were irreversible. In both cases, there were things which could have been done, that might have avoided what happened, but whether the consequences are as small as a ruined suit or as devastating as a terrorist attack, one fact remains. They cannot be changed.

Whether we are talking about machinery or relationships, preventative maintenance is always less costly than repairing or replacing. Fixing little things as they occur is cheaper than dealing with major breakdowns or breakups.

Words that are spoken can never be retrieved. Sometimes, even after an apology has been given, the pain that our words have caused, is never completely gone. Hurts that are caused can never be undone. The consequences of drunk driving, or infidelity in marriage are often beyond repair. Sometimes even after reconciliation, trust and peace of mind are never recovered, and relationships are never again the same.

I once told a young man that he had an inclination to wait until things were beyond repair, before trying to do something about them, and that he was doing the same thing with his marriage. His refusal to listen, has nearly cost him his marriage.

When I did pre-marital counseling, I told the couples that if both of them always considered the feelings of their spouse before they spoke; if they thought about how their actions would impact their spouse, before they acted; if they always put their spouse before themselves, they would never have anything to argue about.

The one thing that destroys marriages and relationship: causes arguments and even wars; prevents harmony in businesses and churches is selfishness. The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is a good rule to live by, but perhaps more to the point would be this. If I love others more than I love myself, I will not have to be told to put their feelings and well being ahead of my own.

Chaplain Fred Jeans,
Kenilworth Care And Rehab

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