It is true what they say. Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got ‘˜til it’s gone’ or, in my case, almost gone.I had a hard time writing this. I think it was because I am still struggling with the question of why, when near death, I was spared.Spending 19 days in the hospital, I had a lot of time to think. While I was on the renal ward, I saw only one other patient leave under his own power. All the rest of the names on the doors stayed the same. They were the names of long term, mostly indigent dialysis patients. Most will die there.I did a lot of praying as folks who find themselves in a tenuous position often do. I bargained with God. I promised Him I would be a changed man if he would heal me and let me leave the hospital without being on dialysis.Through God’s mercy and grace, my prayers were answered.Now comes the hard part ‘“ the changed man part. What parts of me do I change and how do I change them for the better? Answering those questions requires deep, difficult introspection. It is introspection that I have only just begun.I started with prayers to God that he direct me.During my illness countless strangers ministered and administered care to me. Could I do the same?I learned that the fine folks at The Herald Gazette and Journal Reporter are completely capable of producing this newspaper without me. So I have vowed to spend more time with my two daughters and less time at my office. My eldest will be grown and gone in just three years. I want to make the best of those years for both of them and will.But, that is a selfish promise and one must be selfless.So, I’ve taken my high horse out back and shot him. I will strive to no longer look down on others but see all as my equals. Our circumstances may be completely different but, as human beings, we are equals.I have also determined to spend more time helping others through volunteer efforts, mission trips and the like. I pray and then I shut up and listen for God’s direction as to how to approach this effort. It is hard to stop one’s mind long enough to listen to God but I think I will know when answers come.My work, by its very nature, puts me close to life’s hard edges. Quite frankly, countless traffic fatalities, shootings, knifings and other such mayhem had hardened my heart. I can dispassionately work these things but often scenes from them arrive in the night to keep me from sleep.Some of that hardening has left me without the compassion I should have. I am going to work on that.My point is I am a work in progress. You are, too.Don’t wait for your life to hang in the balance before you seek God and the change he can bring about in your life.You may not be blessed with the second and third chances I have been afforded.Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and Pike County Journal Reporter.
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