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Life is Like a Coin: You Only Spend it Once


Lillian Dickson is quoted as stating, “Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once”. Life starts all over again each morning, no matter what our misgivings.

Lillian Dickson was a Presbyterian Minister's wife, a missionary in China and a mother. She and her husband brought two children into the world in the first few years of their marriage, both of whom were buried in the small town of Tamsui, China. Soon after, they had a boy and a girl a year apart and both were safely born. Did Lillian have a reason to withdraw from life? Of course. Yet, she and her husband did missionary work during turbulent times in the world and she went on to write many inspirational books. After she lost two babies. Life is short.

Life is short. Tomorrow is promised to no one. We’ve all heard phrases like that. Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, there was a catch phrase that was popular…”Life sucks and then you die.” Imagine living every day with that philosophy. The truth is life is what you make it. Life is a journey that is meant to be enjoyed. Troubles will ensue and we will do one of two things…give in to them or overcome them. It’s all about your faith and your determination.

I am not going to prophesize. I am not going to lecture. I am going to reflect.

Today, I got a phone call from one of my best friends in the whole world. He is more than a friend. I love him like a brother. We are close. I have been through some difficult and challenging times during these last two years. He has been there for me every time. Each and every time. We just spent a weekend together along with 40 other men on a spiritual retreat. I went because it was finally a chance for me to do something for him. He wanted me to go. He is extremely spiritual and a firm believer in Jesus Christ. Sometimes, the strength of his convictions makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. But, I went because he asked me to be there. He is a good man who has overcome quite a bit in his lifetime as well. I may not have that many chances to do for him, life is short.

I could tell in his voice something was not right when I answered the phone. He said that his wife’s mother died yesterday morning. Yesterday was Tuesday, 11-10-09. They had just seen her on Sunday, 11-8-09 and all was fine. The spiritual retreat that he was a team leader at was Friday and Saturday, 11-6-09 and 11-7-09. He was so busy in preparation for this retreat weekend. He was involved in the very beginning, back in January. Since August, he and the rest of the spiritual team leaders met every Sunday afternoon for three hours. My friend was responsible for 20 attendees. He recruited 20 people to this retreat. No one likes to tell him no. He is that special. Imagine…10 months of preparation, a very inspirational and successful spiritual retreat on 11-6-09 and 11-7-09. He and his wife visited with the wife’s perfectly fine, 61 year old mother on 11-8-09. On 11-10-09, the perfectly fine , 61 year old woman had died. Life is short.

How precious do we treat our time here on earth? How often do we let frustration and anger over menial things permeate our lives? Who amongst us has not wasted valuable time over things that we cannot change? How often do we wish for better things in life instead of being grateful for what we have. Do we take things for granted? Have we failed to tell the loved ones in our life how much we love them. Has it been too long since we visited our parents? Have we lost our temper way too quickly with our children. Do we say if I only knew then what I know now?

For most of us, there is still time to change. Be it ever so fragile, we do have a life. It may not seem like it, especially if you are in your 20’s or 30’s, but life is short. Time does fly. Like Lillian said, life can only be spent once. Spend it wisely. Tragedy can strike quickly and without warning. I experienced that over 33 years ago when my father-in-law had a sudden and massive heart attack and died instantly. I remember that pain. I remember trying in vain to support my wife and wanting to be able to fix things for her, but couldn’t. Today, my friend called. He was strong in words, but I heard the pain in his voice. He is now experiencing that same pain and I know that he will want to fix things for his wife, but he will not be able to do so either.

Tell those in your life how much they mean. Say I love you. Enjoy life. Keep your regrets to as few as possible. Life may be short, but the influence of what we do and what we say can be ever lasting.

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