No. 530



One time I heard a story about this petite Catholic girl who fell in love with a Methodist boy and she began to worry about the differences in religion that might be a problem or a barrier to a successful marriage. She kept griping and complaining, and one day her mother said to her, "Why don't you just sell him on Catholicism and there won't be a problem any more and you may rest assured, he will never be in a better mood to buy." The girl said, "I'll just do it," and she went to work on him. She kept reporting progress and her mother said, "That's good, that's fine. See, there won't be a problem any more."
Then one day a few weeks later, the girl came in crying, and as soon as she got in the front door she said, "It's all off. It's over. We can't be married." Her mother said, "But I thought you told me that you had him sold on the Catholic religion." She said, "I did have him sold mother, but I oversold him, and now he's going to become a priest."
We can all oversell if we are not careful. When I heard this story it reminded me of the failing of most sales people. The average sales person spends five minutes selling and 25 minutes buying it back.
To be honest, this is one of the major considerations I had early this morning when I was thinking about writing this column. Sometimes writers, like parents, have a tendency to drone on and on about something they believe to be important, when the results would be better if we dispense with an eyedropper and not a fire hose. With that in mind, I want to share something with you that I am calling "The Forks in the Road." Of course, you know there are many different kinds of forks, one of the reasons the English language is so hard to master.
The kind of fork I am talking about can be found in the road we travel through life. We may be humming along until we come to a fork or a branch in the road and we have to make an important decision as to which way to go. This reminds me of the late Bob Murphy, who used to tell a story about this country boy who was so tall that if he had grown another inch he would have forked, which is another one of those forks. In reality, there are constant literal forks in the road of life and most of these are clearly marked so we know which one to take, but many are not marked, and that is where we can go wrong, very wrong.
Let me tell you about a group of people who wish they had taken the other fork or made a different decision at a critical time in their lives. These are the men and women who are in prison, and especially those who are released from prison, now with a criminal record, who are trying to make it out in the real world. Some of the saddest letters I have ever received were from readers who had been convicted of a crime, were later released, only to get in trouble again, because as a result of their criminal record they couldn't find a job.
You may be saying to yourself, this does not apply to me because I have never been in trouble with the law, much less spent time in jail or prison. In one sense, however, what I have been saying does apply to every man and woman in our nation. This is because we are all role models for someone. Our very lives are on display for others to see. Most of the people who wound up in trouble with the law came as a result of the influence of their so-called friends. Peer pressure is a very powerful thing, especially for a person with low self-esteem.
For the sake of our young people, if not for yourself, please ponder these questions: What changes do I need to make in my life to become a better role model for those around me? Do I have personal habits that are influencing young people in a negative way? We all come to those forks in the road. The late John D. Rockefeller Jr. (1874-1960) once said, "I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty."
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)