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By: Jamie Collins
I sometimes pretend (big word there) that I not only write a popular column on The Paralegal Society and articles as a legal columnist, but also wear a secondary hat as a renowned contributor to LinkedIn’s Influencer Program, bumping virtual shoulders with the Presidents of Fortune 500 companies, CEOs, some really cool bloggers/business owners, and let us not forget Richard Branson – the owner of a private island. Since I have yet to receive my formal invitation to write alongside these esteemed thought leaders, I decided what the heck, I’d just go ahead and write my own post featuring this week’s assigned topic of: “Best Advice.” (Take that LinkedIn. I’m off and running.)
Here’s my best advice…
I’ll never forget a funeral I once attended for the young son of a former boss of mine. I believe Peter was age 7 when he passed away after losing a long, courageous, hard-fought, three year battle with a cancerous tumor on his brain. At that point in my life my son, Gavin, was around 3-years-old and as a mother, I experienced gut wrenching sorrow and deep seeded emotional empathy as to what life must have been like for his family.
Perhaps the worst part was the fact that Peter was the only boy in a miniature clan of all girls besides him – a brood consisting of 7 children total. Because of this uneven balance in gender, people would frequently see the family out in public (after Peter’s death) and innocently ask, “All girls, huh?” It certainly didn’t used to be. Little did those innocent passersby realize the memory they dredged up with their innocent remarks. The pain felt in the family’s blog posts was real and palpable. I forced myself to read their updates and entries, even though it was emotionally grueling. The brave and remarkable way they dealt with this horrific tragedy, both as parents and a family, leveled me to tears on more than one occasion.
Anyway, I remember sitting in a long, wooden pew on the day of the church service, alongside several former coworkers, as the priest stood at the front of the beautiful, stain-glass embellished church to deliver his sermon. It turns out that Father Philip D. Halfacre, the man conducting Peter’s eulogy, was a good friend of my former boss. The two had known one another for many years, attended Indiana University together during their formative years as young, college-bound adolescents, and remained friends into adulthood. Father Halfacre was Peter’s Godfather, and had baptized each of the family’s 7 children over the years that had passed. Their close personal connection and lifelong friendship laced raw emotion and incredible heartfelt depth into every word he spoke on that day. But there was one part I will carry with me for as long as I live.
At one point, Father Halfacre began to discuss his background and personal calling into the seminary, why he chose to become involved, his experiences and motivations for doing so, and what had brought him to this point in his life. He continued on (and I am paraphrasing here):
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but everything I’ve done up until this very moment is what prepared me to stand here before you today to deliver this speech. Over the past few days and weeks, and even into the hours of this morning, I found myself feeling less than prepared, inadequate for the job, and unsure how I could deliver an impactful sermon in memory of Peter to honor his life, his legacy, and his family; the eulogy that he truly deserves. I wasn’t sure I could do it. I didn’t feel equipped for the job. But then I thought about it, prayed over it and realized that every single moment before this one in my life was preparing me for THIS moment, to stand here before you today. Every experience and hardship I faced, every good thing I accomplished or assisted with along the way, everything I was taught or came to know – although I didn’t realize it at the time – was all to prepare me to stand here before you today to deliver these words in memory of Peter. All that came before is what lead me to this moment. It is the reason why. It was to bring me here – to this moment, where I stand before you today.”
It was the most heartfelt and empowering words I had ever heard uttered by another human being. It still brings tears to my eyes today thinking about his emotionally charged words that swept through the room like an invisible, tangible, emotionally-charged current. While I may not have realized the impact Father Halfacre’s words would have upon me as a person, to this day, I continue to reflect back upon his empowering message which was delivered under such dire circumstances.
There are so many times in life for each of us when we find ourselves wondering how we’ll accomplish something big. How we’ll manage to make it from here to there. How we’ll be able to take down the next big thing that stands in our way. How we’ll manage to do something we feel less than equipped to handle, whether it’s in our personal life or our professional one. We find ourselves feeling inadequate, or inexperienced, or terrified, or less than competent, or less than knowledgeable, or less than prepared – far less than ready for the next big thing that stands in the road before us.
When these moments arrive, let us each take a moment to remember Father Halfacre’s words, as he spoke them that day – and to realize that every single moment that came before this one, in the here and now, was to prepare us for THIS moment. We can do it. We will. We have the courage, strength, tenacity, willpower, and experience to get it done. We will surmount every obstacle. We will not only accomplish the next step or embrace the next challenge, but do so with a radiant enthusiasm; one that empowers not only ourselves, but stirs others as we leave our own small mark upon the world. No matter what the task, no matter what the day, no matter what the circumstance, no matter what the obstacle standing before you, no matter what that self-sabotaging voice echoing out from deep within yourself tells you to the contrary – you ARE equipped to handle it. And you will.
Never doubt your own abilities when you arrive at a pivotal moment in life. Just remember – every moment you have ever experienced up until this one was to bring you to this place, where you currently find yourself standing. A million moments brought you to this one. You are more than ready.
Don’t ever forget it.
A special thank you to Monsignor Philip D. Halfacre of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria for delivering such a powerful message, and to the Dudley family for allowing me to share this post publicly with our readers.
This post is dedicated in loving memory of Peter Dudley.