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Today’s Homework: Live with Passion

Like it or not, we live in a world that makes big judgments based on little facts, that expects an answer five minutes before the question was ever asked, and that seemingly becomes more and more demanding daily. Don’t get me wrong, I thrive off change, competition, and learning. But very rarely do we take the time necessary to enjoy a win, laugh, or moment before worrying about the next challenge or problem.

Let’s rewind. Friday after a grueling work week, my wife and I decided to go on a walk with our two kids.  As I was picking up the car seat of my six month old boy, Bennett, I didn’t realize that the carrier bar was unlocked, causing my sweet little Bennie to fall out. It was seemingly a minor incident – a small bruise on his face, 10 minutes of tears, and me giving myself a hard time like any father would in such a situation.

The following day, my wife Lindsey left for a much-needed day away at a friend’s baby shower. What do dads do with two children when moms are away? Donuts of course, followed by a walk, and going to the pool to take the edge of the Kansas summer heat. As we settled back in at home and I made dinner for Princess Kennedy, I let Bennett sit in his jumper. As I looked over, he was making some spastic actions. His eyes rolled back a bit and his body tensed for a few seconds. I took videos and sent them to my wife, who was a neuro nurse in her past life. While concerning, it didn’t seem like a major deal. Later that night, Lindsey returned home from her day trip and 8 hours in the car to and from Nellyville, aka St Louis. That’s as much of a “day off” as most Mom’s get, right?

Understandably exhausted, she wanted to sleep in a bit on Sunday. It’s a very rare occasion on which I’m the one pressing to go to church and Lindsey’s dragging (and it’s usually is quite the opposite). As we sat in the cry room at church – as parents of a six month old and a three year old do – Bennett had a few more spasms. Seeing them in person was much more alarming to Lindsey.

After discussing it and calling an “Ask-a-nurse” hotline to get some advice, we decided it was best to head to the ER. Shortly after arriving and showing the nurses and doctors a couple videos of the spasms, they quickly decided Bennett needed to be admitted.

Within an hour, he had a catheter, blood drawn, and was hooked up to an EEG.  I started to scour the internet to try and self-diagnose my little boy. One minute I was convinced it was just ‘weird’ baby movements, and the next assuming the very worst. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of helplessness that came over me as I looked down at my son, knowing he couldn’t tell us what was wrong and that there was nothing more that I could do for him at this point.

While we don’t yet know what is causing Bennett’s spasms, I do know one thing: Life is precious and far too short to be worried about meaningless things. The ones that don’t stoke our passion, subtract from our bandwidth at work, and divert our attention from our families. Why do we spend so much of our time and energy fretting about such trivia, when we should be focusing on the things that truly matter?

I can’t tell you what to be passionate about nor should I – only you can decide what’s most important to you and start prioritizing these things even as you ruthlessly eliminate those that are just filling your life with yet more busyness. That said, this grueling experience with my son is a powerful reminder that I need to live my life with more passion. While some serious self-reflection these past few days, I’ve realized that I love my God, my family, and my friends more than anything in this world. I am passionate about being a great dad, being a great friend, and making a difference in the world.

Do me and yourself a favor, and high-five a stranger, hug a friend, and let your family members know you love them. We’re living in crazy times and change is all around us. That being said, I find comfort and hope in the wonderful people I’m surrounded by. And from now on, I’m determined to pursue my passions with relentless purpose.

By Tyler Groepper

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