Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly. -Proverbs 14:29
Dear members and friends of the SF Swedenborgian Church,
Once I was watching a Korean awards show for variety shows. The person who received the best award for the year shared his feelings and thanks, then added, “For a long time, I was jealous of others receiving great awards and being successful, while I suffer my failure. Then, one day I realized the truth that changed my life entirely: I desired to be praised as the best without doing the very best I could do.” This inspired many Koreans and it totally makes sense; in order to be great, you should first do your best, right?
In this success-driven culture and time, most people desire to be the best or at least great at something. Yet, how many of us are aware of the cost of success? And, more importantly, why do we want to be successful and great to begin with? In a way, it seems to be in our DNA and innate nature that we prefer victory over a failure or loss. There is definitely a certain narcissistic tendency and self-centeredness in all of us; we can’t help but feel hurt when we find ourselves losing or unsuccessful. In other words, we could arguably summarize that the reason we desire to be successful and great is simply that it feels good in our heart.
Conditions which make one person feel good are certainly not identical from one person to another. During my 17 years of the parish ministry, I have sat at the bedside of dying person many times, holding their hands and listening to what they want to say as their last words. There seems to be a few universal things that most of them regretted the most. First is always about not loving properly (or enough) those who loved them dearly. The second is usually about not living a life they knew to be right. The third is often about missing opportunities to do whatever they truly wanted to do. The point is that I have never heard or read about anyone regretting a lack of success or absence of greatness in their life. Though life without any regret is indeed impossible, we could realistically achieve a life with few regrets by simply having a little more patience and understanding! With patience, we are able to see matters more objectively and gain a deeper understanding on what really matters at each stage in our life. With that, hopefully we would choose the way of life that leads to the fewest regrets.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee