As I was contemplating our tenet of abundance, I saw a perfect FB post by Wendi Mott Olsen. She gave permission for us to adapt and share it here. I’m sure it will inspire you as it did me.
With a recent announcement regarding a favorite group of cafeterias closing, I can’t help but ponder one of the greatest lessons I ever learned about life, and I learned it in a cafeteria.
When I was in college, I had a wonderful conversation with a very sweet 85-year-old man named Harold. He was seated a few seats over in the cafeteria during dinner time. I noticed his meal was quite bland and boring, not something I would consider ever eating, except for an ENORMOUS slice of yummy looking pie.
Harold had pushed his food around his plate, not eating much, but all the while eyeing his slice of pie. Finally, Harold had a look of pure decisiveness cross his face. In an instant, he pulled his pie to him. He glanced at his wife with fork in hand, about to dig in to his dessert. His hand froze when his wife scolded him, “Harold, you HAVE to eat your dinner first. I mean it. You aren’t supposed to have sweets anyway.” With an apologetic and dejected look, he started to put his fork back down and pushed his plate away. Then he stopped, looked at me, and said, “I am about to give you a piece of advice that will change your life: LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO EAT DESSERT LAST!” And with that he gobbled up his pie, and then finished his dinner.
For years I chuckled about that incident, and always used it as an excuse to eat a cookie with breakfast or start with my dessert before eating my dinner. Over time, I came to understand just how profound Harold’s wisdom was.
My first husband was diagnosed with cancer shortly after our marriage; so the first year of our marriage, all of the “firsts” were not what we had in mind. Our first Christmas, New Year’s, Valentines, anniversary, etc. These firsts that we hoped to make so special were spent in the hospital, or at home while my husband was ill from the effects of chemotherapy.
In essence, we had put a damper on believing we could truly enjoy any of those “firsts”–those special holidays and anniversaries until AFTER he was cured. While we did have little moments of joy, it was overshadowed by an attitude of, “Next year when you are cured, we are really going to make it special.” It was almost as if we had been told, “You have to eat your dinner first, you can’t enjoy life right now, not while your husband is fighting for his life!”
As I contemplated the direction my life has gone and Harold’s wisdom, I wish I would have understood the true meaning behind his words sooner. During my husband’s cancer journey, we learned to start enjoying the “dessert moments” of our life. We learned to laugh and enjoy more of the moments, realizing that they were precious. We also learned that, with the right attitude, we had the POWER and CAPABILITY to make every moment a “dessert” moment, and oh how we cherished every sweet moment.
After my husband died, I found myself putting things off again. Once again, I felt as if someone had told me, “You have to eat your dinner first, you aren’t allowed to be happy now that your husband has died. You aren’t allowed to smile and laugh! In fact, YOU WILL NEVER EAT DESSERT AGAIN.”
I was resigned to the fact I would have to sit by myself pushing my dinner around my plate, eyeing everyone else’s beautiful and delicious desserts, lamenting that God had taken MY dessert away; the dessert I had been eyeing my WHOLE life–dreaming of eating and savoring every bite.
Oh, how wrong I was. After much pondering, praying, and reflection, I realized that God had not taken away my “dessert”. Rather, He has given me a different dessert that the one I had pictured for myself.
Now I am happily remarried to an incredible man (seriously, God is sooo sooo good, and I am so blessed he brought Mark into my life), my life is amazing! And I still try to live the motto that “Life is too short to eat dessert last.” Though it is not what I imagined, it is still wonderful and meant to be enjoyed.
If you ever find yourself in a similar situation–where life hasn’t gone as you expected or planned– please remember, it is okay to laugh, and enjoy time with family and friends. It is okay to dream, and work on goals, and try new things. It is okay to enjoy the sweet moments, always remember you have the power to make every moment a “sweet” moment. Yes, they may be semi-sweet moments (other moments may be cotton-candy sweet) while others are 90% dark chocolate, bittersweet, barely any sweetness at all, but just enough sweet…. Through my faith in Christ, I know you CAN find joy in the journey, you can find the sweet moments of life! After all, “Life is too short to eat dessert last!”
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