McDowell Technical Community College

Life Lessons

By Doug Harrell

Relationships are the basis of our everyday lives here on this earth. They are the things that make all the difference in all areas of our lives.  We start with the relationship with our parents and siblings at birth, and then as our world expands with age, this scope broadens into many facets.  I want to spend a few minutes on several of these today, parents, siblings, friends, mates and last, but most importantly, with our Savior Jesus Christ.

At birth our relationship is with our parents and the environment that is created by them in the home.  I was blessed with parents that were loving, hard-working, strict but fair, and that had a strong belief in attending church and teaching the importance of having a relationship with the Lord.  As I was growing up I was blessed to have chores and work to do and was totally expected to get them done.  One of the biggest challenges with our urban culture is the lack of WORK for the children to do around the home!  Now I am not suggesting that everyone move back to the country, even though I do truly believe that there is a different culture when the child is reared where outdoor chores are a possibility.  The family unit is so important in the overall plan of life, and there is a biblical structure that is fundamental to this unit.  The father is to be the head of the house and must be willing to lead in discipline and training of Christian principles.  To do this he must first practice these principles and lead by example, not just talk.  Now I know some of you women may take issue with this but if so, argue with the Bible, not me, because I am writing about the biblical principles that are taught in the Bible.  Barbara and I have been married fifty-four years now, not every day has been pleasant, but most have, and we have tried to follow the written instructions.  Let me be very clear, Barbara is not a meek little mouse and has never been, and she sure speaks her piece and states her thoughts clearly and plainly!  I have learned over the years, sometimes I am still learning, to listen and really evaluate these thoughts and ideas.  Most of the time, thank goodness, we are on the same page, but when we aren’t, and I make the decision to go against what she thinks, she does support me.  Now I do admit, when I go against her and it goes wrong, at times she will remind me that she didn’t want me to do that in the first place.  Our children need to see us united and pulling together as a couple with a visible commitment to each other.  As parents we must be clear in our expectations of conduct for our children, this is an area that has really changed over the years.  I was told once to do something, not given 2, 3, 4 or five times to do something.  I cannot count the times I was sent to the trees out front to bring back a switch and had my legs and little butt switched!  You would have thought that I would have been a faster learner!  Today you can get arrested for spanking your child in public!  Now I am not advocating abuse, but I guarantee that a good whipping is not going to do permanent damage, but it will instill respect for authority and following rules and laws.   Proverbs 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chastens him betimes.

As we grow up and mature, the tide changes and we children oft times become caretakers of the parents.  Even before that time we are instructed to honor our father and our mother. This is one of the ten commandments that carries a promise that our days may be many.  I see and hear so many children today speaking very disrespectfully to and of their parents, folks this is totally wrong!  I remember one morning dad and I were at the milk house milking and dad said something and I really smart mouthed him.  I don’t remember what it was all about, but I do remember, and always will, what happened.  The next thing I knew I was laying on the ground outside the milk house where dad had literally kicked my behind with his foot.  He was standing over me and said, Son, don’t you ever speak to me like that again, and I never did.  That might be a little drastic, but it sure taught me a lesson and I always respected him because I truly got what I deserved.  In 1990 Barbara and I moved home and told her mother and my mother and dad that we were home and would be there to take care of them, that we would not leave.  Now again, I know that this is not always possible, but I also know that it was one of the biggest blessings Barbara or I either ever had.

Relations with our mate are so critical in our lives and those of our children.  As I said earlier, Barbara and I have been married 54 years and counting.  Our society today looks at marriage as a legal agreement, not a covenant.  As a friend of mine wrote, a legal contract or agreement can be changed by a legal agreement, a covenant cannot be changed.  Marriage is not easy but keeping it together has soooo many blessings.  We must understand that many times our heart does not feel like we are in love, but we must make a mind decision that we made a covenant before God and others that we would be true until death do us part.  Now there were probably times that Barbara wished that were not so, and maybe even me, but we agreed at the beginning that there was to be no ending except by death, there would be no divorce, there would be no leaving to go home because we were mad.  This was a mind decision, given time and effort, the heart would catch up.  Don’t give up on marriage, the rewards are too great to miss, today we have five children, twenty-one grandchildren and soon to be eleven great grandchildren, blessings truly abound!

The last, but most important relationship I want to address, is the relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Without this relationship, none of the others will be the same.  This relationship controls our outlook and attitude toward everyone whose lives we cross.  Without it, our families never really achieve the love for each other and the caring for each other that this brings.  True belief and trust in the Lord also takes a mind decision and a heart decision to be fulfilling, and it must be worked on continuously.  We cannot give our lives to Jesus, say well I did that, and walk away and have the joy of his love in our hearts.  We must invest in this relationship just like we must invest in a marriage relationship if we want it to truly be a blessing to us and to those around us.  We must acquire knowledge and have fear in the Lord before we really are able to feel the love that abounds in him, if we are to truly feel his presence and be surrounded by the blessings he has in store for us.  Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the Lord tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

As we go into this Thanksgiving season, take time to work on relationship, if you want a good neighbor, be a good neighbor, if you want a good mate, be a good mate, if you want to be a loved parent, be a loving parent, if you want a good friend, be a good friend.  Most of all, if you want to be a child of God, be obedient, diligent and studious in your study of the Lord’s words and works.  Have a blessed Thanksgiving.