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“Son, if you ain’t never sick, you won’t never know how good it feels to feel good,”

The Blessing Of Balance


By —— Bio and Archives--October 27, 2018

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The Blessing Of Balance
Until Jaybird joined his Heavenly Father, just shy of his ninetieth birthday, my boyhood best friend and mentor enjoyed good health, although the beloved old black man’s lifestyle was not entirely healthful: He smoked cigarettes and drank beer, both of which he enjoyed in moderation.

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“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not,”

Jaybird would have agreed with two of Mark Twain’s best known quotes: “The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not,” and “Some people strictly deprive themselves of every eatable, drinkable and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health, and health is all they get. How strange — it’s like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry.”

Jaybird believed that taking care of oneself sufficiently to fulfill opportunities for serving others is enough; overdoing it diminishes chances to enjoy life, an attitude that allowed him to indulge in less than salubrious habits. He viewed health the same way that he viewed all aspects of life: balance.

Like all of God’s children, Jaybird suffered through occasional illnesses, but since complaining was anathema to him, if asked how he felt when ill he was apt to say, “I’m off my feed a bit; it’ll pass soon.”

In dealing with all matters — illness included — courage, faith, and the wisdom to accept that life’s negatives and positives must balance, provided all the armament Jaybird needed. Even in the direst of times, he found comfort and reassurance in what he called “sumpin’ to look forward to”: eternal life with Jesus.

Knowing that I, his white son, as he jokingly called me, looked up to him and wanted to be like him, Jaybird showed by example what he felt to be most important: how to make the scales of life balance while remaining within the bounds of goodness. 

 

Like all blessings, Jaybird knew that people are apt to take good health for granted until sickness reminds them that it is a gift from God

Once when I was down with the flu, he checked on me daily, and when I complained that I was tired of feeling awful, he said, “Son, if you ain’t never sick, you won’t never know how good it feels to feel good,” words that offered little comfort to a miserable twelve-year-old boy.

Seeing an opportunity to impart another of the countless teachings that have sustained me down through the years and are always there to lean on in the toughest of times, my mentor explained that because people have little control over life’s health and sickness phases, they must accept them. However ephemeral it may be, happiness, he believed, comes from serving others and thereby serving God and glorifying His name, a duty that can be met just as well, or perhaps even better, in times of illness.

Like all blessings, Jaybird knew that people are apt to take good health for granted until sickness reminds them that it is a gift from God. When wellness returns, they benefit from His grace through what he taught me to understand: the blessing of balance.


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Jimmy Reed -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Jimmy Reed is an Oxford, Mississippi resident, Ole Miss alumnus, Army veteran (Vietnam Era), former Mississippi Delta cotton farmer and ginner, author, and retired college teacher. His short story anthology, Boss, Jaybird And Me, is available at Squarebooks.com (telephone: 662-236-2262). His latest collection of faith-based short stories, entitled One Hundred By Five Hundred, is also available at Square Books (telephone: 662-236-2262) and at amazon.com. To receive Reed’s free weekly newsletter, send an email address to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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