On April 24, 2003 my life changed in an instant as I was involved in an industrial chemical fire in a brand new house. The fire was created by a chemical my employer instructed me to use well beyond what the chemical was designed for. As I fought to get out of this fire, I hit a point where it became apparent that I was trapped as the doors would not open. This occurred as a pressure difference was created from the fires insatiable need for oxygen pulling all the air into the house to feed this fire, sealing the doors shut. The heat was so intense, burning at 1,500 degrees Celsius, that in less than 20 seconds all my energy was drained from me. My desperation to escape turned to despair. Collapsing into a ball, interlocked my fingers over my head, tucking my face as close as I could to the burning floor, I said my final prayers, gave up and embrace the inevitability of death.
In this fetal position something happened to me, something unexpected. In the final moments before death became my new reality, there was a transition point between this world and the spiritual realm where everything became peaceful and time literally stopped. All that remained were my thoughts – my final thoughts.
These final thoughts were actually quite simple yet extremely prophetic. They were simple because of the nature of the thoughts and prophetic as these final thoughts would impact the rest of my life. Once I understood these final thoughts, everything for me became so simple. This moment of dying has become a blessing I’d never give away. It directs and guides me daily as I consider this singular event to be the greatest moment of me being burned. I truly feel I was given a miracle. Let me explain.
In this moment my final thoughts were stripped down to one thought, and only one thought. I thought of my beautiful wife of 4 years and best friend of 7. I thought of how lucky I was to have her in my life. I thought of the blessings she brought to me from her guidance and wisdom to the gentleness of her loving touch. I thought of the child growing within her womb. A child I had nicknamed Seba. I child I dreamed my whole life of fathering. A child I’d never meet. A wife I’d never see again. A family I was saying goodbye too – alone and unexpectedly.
Prior to the fire my thoughts were on many different things. I was thinking about my job. I was thinking about the tasks I had to do the next day as well. I thought about my friend Norris, whose bachelor party I was to plan that evening. I thought about my personal bills and the constant struggle to pay them. Even simple things like what I would have for dinner, possessed my thoughts. I thought about so much (and so little) prior to the fire.
Now in the fire, on the verge of death, all those thoughts were gone. In a way, they were filtered down to just one thought – my wife and my unborn child. I can promise you, nothing else mattered to me! I didn’t care about my job, my bills, my plans, my finances, my house or my commitments. No, all I cared about was my family; those that I loved and those that loved me. The ones I woke up for that morning.
Those were my last thoughts on this world and if they were my last thoughts they ultimately had to be my most important thoughts!
What I found by dissecting this moment was something I never expected. I found a message that became a driving force to my daily life. That message was just how simple life can be – that is, if we let it be simple. The best part is, we all have this same driving force. We all have people we love and people who love us!
How often do we forget this message though as we complicate life by all the other concerns that life holds? You can feel it right now in society as we find so many ways to grumble. Society is super divided over multiple issues. Everything from politics, to COVID-19, to the recent marches and riots over equality, to vaccines, mask use, even this blog will cause someone to push back in some way.
For how long will these concerns rule our lives? 6 months? 1 year? 3 years? 5 years? In 5 years, whatever worries you have right now, will they still keep you up at night? Think about your worries 5 years ago, what were they? Can you even remember them? Even if you can remember something you worried over from 5 years ago, does it still keep you up at night? Why do we worry so much when most of worries are not worth worrying about 5 years later?
This brings me back to what I learned in my near-death experience. I know my final thoughts, my most important thoughts, the only thoughts worth worrying about. I know that money, wealth, property, prosperity, careers, opportunities don’t matter as much as my family’s happiness, health and well-being.
It’s okay to be conscious of the government, a worldwide pandemic, the hard road to equality, your bills, and your future. Finding balance on what is worth worrying about and what is fleeting is the key. That balance is found by understanding what these worries are. Ask yourself “when was the last time you never had a bill to worry over” or ‘the last time the government truly made you happy” or “the last time more money solved all your problems”? These concerns seem to be cyclical as they just keep coming again and again and worry about them will not end this cyclical cycle. .
Many people label these worries as “stresses”. I like to call them ”distractions”. I say this as if you’ll never truly avoid these worries as they will always keep coming back into your life! Why devote a lifetime of stressing over reoccurring issues? That is not what life was meant to be. All these “stresses” do is “distract” you from those final thoughts, those things in life that truly matter. What truly matters is time. The time of grace you have to spend living your life with those you love and those that love you. This time is meant to provide us joy and memories and experiences so that when we do finally die, and we all will die, we can spend those final moments surrounding by those we love and reflecting on how blessed we were to have been loved so much by those who filled our days with memories of moments that enriched our lives.
The government, our bills, our commitments, our fears, our worries, our stresses will never, ever, ever, do that for us. Only what is truly important can provide this peace!
So, what really matters to you? Find that balance by asking will it still matter in 5 years.
I wish you peace, joy, happiness and many blessings with those that bless your life!