Can you find the connection between these three scenarios?
- Changing the oil in your car,
- Having a nice dinner out with your spouse, and
- Jogging through the park.
As you study those three activities, it’s probably not so easy to find a common thread, is it? But it is there! Believe me when I tell you that all three of them have to do with one very important reality of life, and that reality is maintenance.
If you neglect to do routine oil changes in your car, you’ll damage the engine and shorten the life of your vehicle. People who take care of their vehicles with regular maintenance can expect to get upwards of 150,000 miles out them (many more than that on some models). A small amount of time and money spent along the way will save thousands of dollars in the long run, because a new car is very costly these days!
One of my first major purchases after graduating high school and acquiring a job was a car. I loved that car, and I coddled it like a baby! There’s a picture in one of my many albums of me, vacuum in hand, cleaning out my beautiful green Ford Fairlane. It remained my treasure… my baby, for approximately one year. I cleaned it, vacuumed it, sat in it, LOOKED at it, but sadly, I never drove it. You see, at that time I didn’t have a drivers’ license, so when I married the car was sold without my ever having put a single solitary mile on it. All I did was care for it.
The second scenario in my little riddle has to do with marriage. Marriage is a wonderful relationship, but like your car it also requires regular maintenance. Neglect your spouse (your marriage) and the relationship will suffer, and possibly end in divorce. I believe the latest statistics show a divorce rate in this country of around 50%. Some studies indicate that this rate has come down but I believe that probably has to do with the number of couples opting to just live together rather than making the marriage commitment. That way when things go awry they can just walk away, so the ones who are making the marriage commitment are the ones who are willing to stick with it, and less likely to throw in the towel when the going gets tough. Therefore, if you have no license, you have no statistic to record. It’s no less damaging to the individuals involved – a severed relationship still hurts.
Relationships (especially those of such an intimate nature as marriage) are a vital part of life and must be nurtured and cared for with tender loving care if they are to be maintained for a lifetime. During the dating phase of a relationship, and those first few years of marriage, most couples spend a lot of time together. They work hard to please the other individual! As time goes on, however, our lives get busier and we stop making it a priority. Maintenance is a vital component here also. Spending quality time with your spouse – as any professional marriage counselor will tell you – is necessary to keeping the relationship alive.
The third and final scenario is probably pretty obvious by now. This one has to do with maintenance of the body. Good nutrition and regular exercise are vital components to living a life of health and vitality. Ignore this one and you shouldn’t be surprised when health issues eventually crop up. I ignored mine, and eventually I heard those dreaded words from my doctor, “Well, you are no longer pre-diabetic, you are now a full blown diabetic.” No, I was not surprised. I’d been warned, but nobody in my family was a diabetic so figured I’d be able to dodge the bullet on those grounds. Wrong! My bad habits caught up with me and I had to work very hard to get back to a healthy state. I managed to reverse the diabetes through healthy eating and exercise, but wouldn’t it have been nice if I’d adopted my healthy habits early on and avoided that damage altogether?
It certainly would have been much better for my children’s sake as well, had I known about healthier eating. I remember only too well my convictions to do everything perfectly with that firstborn of mine. The doctor was “God” and he was the authority on what constituted the “perfect” maintenance for this child. He said that as long as I was nursing, the child needed nothing else in the way of nourishment for the first several months (not sure of just how many months any more – the “child” is now pushing 50 years old, so it was a while ago!)
After about three months of following doctor’s orders, I was tired. I desperately needed a good night’s sleep. My mother-in-law told me to give the baby some cereal to help her sleep through the night, but the doctor had not given me the okay for cereal, so I couldn’t do that! As time went on though, my need for sleep started to outweigh my desire for “first child” perfection. The little sleep wrecker got her cereal… and more! I was cramming anything I could into that little mouth just to maintain my sanity and get a little sleep.
Long story short, she survived – I survived, but when I finally learned about the whole food – body connection through my own poor choices, my one big regret is that I didn’t learn it much earlier. Label Reading 101 should be a required course for any new parent out there. With all the behavior issues our teachers have to deal with today, I’m thinking that such a course would probably make for a much better learning environment in our schools. Even more important is the health of these children – how many of them suffer illnesses simply because parents do not understand the relationship between food and body?
It’s something to think about….
Maintenance – it’s a fact of life, and it’s not a riddle. It is actually pretty straight forward if we just take the time to learn. Take care of your worldly possessions and they will last you much longer than if you didn’t put that extra care into them. Take care of your relationships by spending time with those you love, and those too will last longer and provide you with many years of support and contentment. Take care of your body by getting that exercise in and eating right and you will enjoy a much healthier and happier life than if you didn’t. Put as much care into your body as you did that new car or that new relationship and it will definitely pay off in the long run!