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Gifts of Moments: Being Somebody to Somebody

In a new series of blogs, I will discuss the inspiration and motivation behind each of the eight books I have published. I begin with the very first book that I published – Gifts of Moments: Being Somebody to Somebody. I invite your comments and questions.

This was my first published book but my second manuscript. My first manuscript turned out to be my second book. Interesting how the sequence flipped.

The idea behind Gifts came from a five-minute speech I gave at a Toastmasters meeting in 2006. In the speech, as in the book, I wanted to make a simple but important point: God grants each of us gifts of moments; and with those gifts comes a covenant – a sacred covenant – that requires each of us, regardless of background, to use those God-given gifts in the most beneficial manner possible. In my view, that means that our gifts are not granted to us for our exclusive, selfish use. Rather, and more importantly, they are granted to us for the primary purpose of serving others.

As I expanded the speech into a publishable manuscript, I began to ponder the construct we call moment. I was reminded that a moment is like a tick of a clock, bat of an eye, or snap of a finger. As such, moments are transient and cannot be retrieved, recovered, or recycled. Once they are gone, they are gone forever. There are no mulligans or do-overs. Moments are precious gifts that come stamped with the words, Handle With Care. They are evenly distributed across humanity, regardless of nationality, status, race, gender, or income. No one is entitled to or possesses more moments than anyone else. God gave us all the same number of ticks of a clock. Obviously, one major distinguishing characteristic among all humans, in a way, is how we use our free will in deciding how to use our gifts of moments.

So, given the fleeting nature of moments, I began to contemplate ways to organize and manage my gifts of moments so that I could honor the covenant that came with those gifts. In doing so, I utilized a rhetorical device called alliteration and devised a model that is both aspirational and inspirational. In that model, I contend that there are at least six ways to manage and organize our moments: Stay in the moment; Seize the moment; Share the moment; Specialize the moment; Serve in the moment; and find Strength in the moment. In writing the book, I utilized each topic as a separate chapter, which contains personal and poignant stories about how I have aspired – and been inspired – to use my gifts of moments as the Creator wants me to.

The second part of the book’s title introduces the second theme of the book. The first part of the title – Gifts of Moments introduces the first theme, which is that moments are gifts granted to us by God. The second part of the title and the second theme – Being Somebody to Somebody – is based on a modification of a quote from Mother Theresa. She once said that one of the great diseases in life is being nobody to anybody. That is a very powerful and convicting statement because there is so much evidence that it is true. We see it in the headlines, hear about it on the news, and read about it on social media – Acts of Violence, War, Genocide, Hatred, Xenophobia, Child Abuse, Human Trafficking, and the list goes on. Those mediums are replete with heart-breaking examples of how so many in our world are being just what Mother Theresa described: being nobody to anybody. As I thought further about her quote, I was led to consider a countervail to Mother Theresa’s quote, which would bring more balance and hope to the equation. In doing so, I realized that while, indeed, there are many who are afflicted with the disease of being nobody to anybody, the rest of us have to counteract that condition by embracing the notion that one of the great joys in life is being somebody to somebody. Each of us can reflect on our own lives and those of others and know that at various points in our lives, somebody has been somebody to us and that we have been somebody to somebody. That is the overarching motivation and inspiration of the book – using our gifts of moments to be somebody to somebody, rather than being nobody to anybody.

The final theme of the book is that everyone has a story to tell. And we have to tell our story, in large part, because there could be someone whose blessing and answers to a difficult situation can be found in your story. After Gifts was published, a number of people told me that the book helped them gain a fresh perspective on a difficult life situation that they had not considered before. To tell your story does not necessarily mean that you have to write a book. There are so many other platforms and venues we can utilize to tell our stories – schools, churches, family reunions, oral history, blogging, and community gatherings, to name a few. No matter the venue or platform, be inspired and encouraged by a quote from the late Dr. Maya Angelou: Nothing is more agonizing than bearing an untold story inside you.

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