Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.
Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. So great to be with you today.
How many of you just enjoy the various seasons in life? I know that people love the summer, winter, spring, fall. I hear a lot of folks just love spring. I don't know if it's because of the newness, the freshness as we're planting new expectations. Spring is awesome, isn't it? And then, I know that folks love the holiday season. Oh my goodness, as the days drive toward October and then Thanksgiving, and then Christmas and New Year’s, the anticipation builds with excitement. [01:05.0]
My wife, Janet, grew up in beautiful southeastern Ohio. The fall colors beckon her back to her childhood home. Each and every year, she loves the fall, but for many people spring and fall, summer, even Christmas may hold unpleasant memories, memories not so cheerful, memories not so happy.
Let me give you an example in my life. It was in the fall of 1996 that my first wife, Trina, passed away following a six-year battle with breast cancer, and each September as the cool breeze of fall offers a bit of relief from the Texas heat, as the kiddos had back to school, as our focus turns toward the holidays, I will tend to reminisce often with a tinge of sadness, and September wasn't the worst month. [02:10.9]
You see, it was during the funeral that you have a lot of activity in the house. People are there. You're encouraged with cards. You're getting phone calls. People are cooking and helping. The boys are cared for. But a month later, the cards are starting to fade. The flowers are gone. Nobody's around. People go on with their lives.
As a matter of fact, if I can interrupt my own podcast, just remember this little thought. You have a friend or a relative who passes away, just circle a month later for the time that you should connect with survivors, with those close to the deceased. That's the time that they really need to hear from you. [03:00.8]
It was a month later after Trina died in October that the reality hit that she was never coming back, and it was too much. It was simply too much to take. Normally, every year, my sadness is pretty short lived because all I need to do is look around me, see my wife, Janet, those boys, those grandchildren, those daughters-in-law, and so gratitude kicks in and literally pulls me out of the pit. However, recently, I had one of those days.
Have you just ever had one of those days, y’all? I can just be very honest with you, have you ever had one of those days that you were stuck and you didn't care? As a matter of fact, you gained comfort by remaining stuck? I can't even figure that out. All I know is that I was stuck and I was somehow gaining some sense of gratification in just being stuck and I realized that I needed to do something. [04:09.9]
So, I shared this higher episode of feeling stuck, not caring, and then taking some action. I shared it with my wife, Janet, a wife who allows me to express my heart in a safe place. She said, “Rick, you need to talk about this on your podcast.” I said, “But people won't be able to relate to this because most people haven't lost a spouse.” She said, “People may not have lost a spouse, but everybody gets stuck from time to time.” Friends, with that thought in mind, here's today's very personal podcast with one hope that somebody will hear this and get unstuck.
I have often said that I should never have married Trina because she was absolutely stunning. She was breathtaking. I called her a brick house back in the ’70s, but somehow by the grace of god, I proposed and she said yes, and we lived a fairytale life. [05:16.3]
We lived in Northern California. Trina was a labor and delivery nurse for a local hospital. I was a local television reporter in Chico, California. Market size, 139. Eventually, we'd have a couple of children, boys, two great sons. For several years, our lives, it was like living a fairytale. We just had the best time. We enjoyed ourselves so much.
We were living in a part of California where in the springtime you could literally downhill water ski or ski on a lake on the same day. We were surrounded by national parks from Yosemite to Sequoia to Kings Canyon. We were close to my parents and close to Trina’s family. We just loved our lives. [06:05.7]
All of that came to a crushing halt when Trina discovered, through a self-breast examination, a lump in her left breast. It was eventually diagnosed as breast cancer and well-advanced, and despite the fact that the cancer had metastasized to her lymph nodes, we were still hopeful. We were still optimistic. We were still expecting her to be healed.
However, over the years, the cancer would spread to multiple organs and, finally, on September 8, 1996, six years after being diagnosed, Trina’s heart finally gave out. For me and my two young sons, I can't even tell you what it's like to stand in a waiting room and have a doctor just look down and say, I’m sorry. [07:04.8]
That's when the nightmare literally began and it was an unending pounding nightmare of epic proportion, the likes of which we just could not escape for months. The normal furniture in a home, laughter, joy and happiness, it was replaced by sadness, despair and loss. It's the stuff death produces. Let me tell you, I held onto my sons as tightly as I possibly could and I held even tighter to the words of that third-grade dropout daddy who at Trina’s casket, said three words, “Son, just stand.” It would be the most profound lesson that my father would teach me. It would be the last lesson that he would teach me. [08:06.4]
He would die a year later, but I got it. I knew what the demand was that was placed upon my heart. My father was a man of few words, much like the men and women of that earlier generation. My dad was part of that greatest generation, World War II vet. They didn't have to say much and they said a whole lot, if what I’m saying, no pun intended.
What my father was saying now with 20-some years to think about it was this. Son, at some point, you're going to have to make a choice. That's what he was saying with three words. You're going to have to make a choice at some point. You're going to have to muster up the courage and the faith, and take an immediate decisive action and make a choice. So, Dad wants to plant this in heart to encourage you to make the right choice. Son, just stand. [09:01.7]
And then I started to notice something, and when I say “and then,” huh, imagine that taking about a year. I started to notice as the months gave way to a year and as one year turned into two, I started noticing a desire to want to stand. I think perhaps the biggest catalyst to that was falling in love with an angel named Janet, a single school teacher who became an instant mom after we got married when she adopted my boys. That adoption fulfilled Trina’s last and dying wish that her babies not go through life without a momma.
Then we had more children, more boys. Now, if you could imagine a few years earlier, a house filled with gloom, sadness, loneliness and despair is now filled with a new wife, a renewed sense of excitement with a husband, bustling teenage boys or almost teenage boys and two toddlers in the house just going crazy. [10:17.7]
It was unbelievable. It was absolutely amazing. It was a life that I never ever thought that I would ever expect to experience, especially when you consider just a few years earlier I was looking at my future in a casket. However, as great as that life was, every once in a while, typically during the fall or the winter, I would have a few hours where I would just be a little sad, just stuck. But this time for some reason was very different. It wasn't just a few hours and I couldn't get unstuck, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks—just like I had done 24 years ago, I had to move. [11:15.6]
I had to do something. I had to change my status. The choice boils down, doesn't it, to maintaining or changing our status? This time, though, was different because I wanted to stay stuck and can't give you a good reason why and won't even try to. So, now I’m fighting on two levels. I’m fighting on an emotional level and I’m fighting on a will level. I had to place a demand upon my will to stand, to make a demand upon my heart to change, and it was hard.
Friends, many of us get stuck in a lot of different ways and these principles will apply if you allow them, whether you get stuck emotionally or financially, or relationally, physically, academically, intellectually, professionally, socially, even spiritually. [12:17.2]
Listen to this. I really believe this is true. Feeling stuck encourages inactivity. It encourages stagnation. Our reluctance to want to move, in my opinion, is because of this sense of feeling overwhelmed. Where do I begin? What do I do? And in this case, at this time, a sense of failure. I know better. I know what to do, but I don't want to. I want to remain stuck. Do I have a witness? Can anybody relate to what I’m saying? I also think that the reluctance to get unstuck comes from the fact that we just can't see any way out. [13:02.2]
Now, this was really pronounced 24 years ago. You see, 24 years ago, in an instant, Trina was gone. The boys were devastated and motherless. My heart was broken, I thought, for good and I had no desire, absolutely no desire to go.
Friend, if I’ve just described you, hold on. I’ve got good news. If you can take a couple of baby steps, you can walk back toward hope. I said, if you can take just a couple of baby steps, you can walk back toward hope. You see, feelings, the feeling of being stuck, feelings are temporal, transient. They're fleeting, but hope is eternal. It's dynamic. It's transformative. [14:04.4]
I don't want to be in a family where there's no hope. I don't want to be on a ball team where there's no hope. I don't want to be in an organization where there's no hope. I have to believe that a better day will come. I have to believe it in so much of a profound way that I’m willing to do something.
You see, hope requires choosing to do something. In my case, it required moving from inactivity to being active. Here was my routine and I think I can make it really clear. Twenty-four years ago, my routine would be to take my kids to school, and so I would wake up in the morning. I’d keep my pajamas on. I would take kids to school. I would drop them off, come back home and go to bed, and just close it down, unless I was teaching, and I had a Tuesday, Thursday schedule, but Monday, Wednesday and Friday, my thought was, If I can sleep, I don't have to live life. If I can sleep away my pain, I can avoid life. Please don't judge me. It’s just where I was. [15:14.7]
So, I decided to take a couple of steps and I really believe it all started at the casket when my father placed a demand upon me to stand. I believe this is what he envisioned. After months of living a nominal life, after months of sleeping myself literally throughout the day, I decided before driving my boys to school, I would get up. I would brush my teeth. I would take a shower and I’d get dressed. Friends, that was huge. Baby steps, yes, baby steps, but it's signaled something to my brain. Maybe I can move on. Maybe I can change my status. [16:10.7]
And “move” is the imperative word. I love what tony robin says that within the word “emotion” is “motion”, movement that has the potential to positively impact your emotion. I got it. My brain got it and I started moving. Guess what? One baby step led to two. Two baby steps led to three. Now, I’m not going to tell you that everything happened all of a sudden and quickly, and I’m not going to tell you that I still don't struggle. That's the whole point of this podcast today, but here's the key that I want you to really get. If you are stuck, place a demand upon your heart to do something, to move, even if it's just baby steps. [17:05.6]
I want to close with a line from one of my favorite movies. It's called The Intern, starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. It came out a few years ago. De Niro's character, Ben Whittaker, 70 years old, he's a widower. He applies for an internship at a hip online store owned by Hathaway’s character. In the opening scene, Ben Whitaker is narrating the last few years of his life from the highs of international travel to the lows and the agony of losing the love of his life. In one simple declarative sentence, he teaches leadership 101 when he says, quote, “I’ve discovered the key to this whole thing is you’ve got to keep moving.”
Friend, keep moving. Friend, start moving. Move. Do something. Even if they're baby steps. Why? Because baby steps signal something to your brain and is the only pathway back to hope. [18:18.4]
I hope that just somebody has been encouraged. Even if just one person has been encouraged, it's been well worth this podcast. Oh, friend, you don't have to continue to live being stuck. Do something. Move, even if it's just baby steps. Think about that for a few days, would you?
Friends, until we meet again, this is Dr. Rick asking you the most important question I can ask them, How you living’?
Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout,” absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.
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