Three + One
Off the Wall, November 20,

I’m always amazed when individuals feel that they have to lay excuses on me for their shortcomings. Sure, we all have weaknesses, I’ll be the first to admit that. But, there are always two approaches to doing things, the hard and the easy ways.

The first thing one has to get out of his mind is to give into thoughts that “I could never do that.” Do you know how many people have that attitude? More than you can imagine, I’m afraid.

In conquering anything new, one has to state, “I’ll try,” rather than “I could never do that.” By admitting the latter, one has already talked himself out of whatever one’s challenge may be.

From the moment we are blessed by waking up in the morning to going to bed at night, we are going to be faced with trials. Some will be easy and others not as so. The great thing is, we can accomplish most, as long a we do not set our goals too high.

In redefining weaknesses, let’s call them challenges. We seniors know all too well what so many people take for granted – that we have to be careful with every step we take whereas youngsters don’t give that concern.

Little Joanie Skiploo will actually run along the sidewalk in front of her house playing with her friends who will call out, encouraging them to catch up. Her grandfather, Walker Little can only think back during the years of his childhood when he could do the same.

One’s whole life is made up of challenges, from walking up to the opposite sex and asking for a date, buying the right house or selling it. The young have to understand how to read, teens learn driving skills and collegians, professional fields.

In considering all the above, I have surmised that people’s hesitation to commit a simple act concerns three words and one phrase – “could, can and should” with the phrase, “for me.”

I’m reminded of a children’s book of which I became familiar in my growing years as a child. Published in the United States in 1930 (first published in a Swedish journal, 1902), “The ‘Story of the Engine that Thought It Could’ was used to teach children the value of optimism and hard work,” according to Wikipedia.

The thinking process behind giving children and adults alike was that if one put his mind to it, there is a good possibility what one sets out to do can be accomplished.

When the engine in the story kept saying, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can,” every thought rendered was a step in the right direction toward doing what it set out to do.

Upon examining these three words, “could, can, and should,” ought be the same motivator for one as the child-speaking machine spoke.

To cite an example, Dave Spendenles, Cheepscap, Minnesota, was asked to support the firemen in his small town of 833. Every year he would receive a letter in the mail asking for a donation. It would end up in the trash. “I think I can” never entered his mind.

It’s interesting when one speaks of charity. When one does for others, he also does for God. Many people don’t consider that.

In a way, evangelization falls right in line with charity, except instead of serving other people and God, one is strictly passing on the many benefits God can do for others.

The three words plus one phrase philosophy of life should constantly be rekindled in our minds. “Could” I promote God, “Can” I tell others of His Son? “Should” I spread the news of being led by the Holy Spirit? Here’s where the phrase falls into place. In as much as the Holy Family has blessed me abundantly, is it “for me?”

Many people are afraid to step out of their comfort zones, and don’t evangelize. Their weakness is literally fear to cross over to the other side where people need to hear about God’s love.

When the Holy Spirit gave me a prayer, I had it printed on cards. When I feel so led, I cross over my comfort zone and give people these cards. Since I have been given so many blessings, there’s no holding me back. I’m beyond the Little Engine’s philosophy. The “could,” “can,” and “should, approach everyday has led to many blessings “for me."

- Paul J. Volkmann
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