Real Help for Real Living: We’re having an “I’m done paying tuition party”

We are a little more than one week away from the Super Bowl game. But before you can don your Steelers or Packers gear, we have the NFL Pro Bowl game this weekend. While it may prove to be yet another opportunity for football junkies to sit glued to their television screens, in the Marciano family, we’re having a special party, one I never thought I would see in my lifetime. We are having an “I’m done paying tuition party.”

In March 1999, my family bought a Dodge Grand Caravan. We worked hard over the next few years to pay down the principal. My goal was to have it paid off by July 2002.
You would think I would have the extra money in my checkbook.

Beginning the next month – August 2002 – I started making tuition payments to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. For the next nine years of my life, my checkbook and UNC Charlotte had a very special relationship.

Twice a year, they asked for and received “love notes” (tuition payments). With those “love notes,” the university allowed my children to be away from home. There were times when UNC Charlotte wanted multiple loves notes. It accused me of having more than one child in school at the same time (I have made tuition payments for one, two, and at one time three children). This dark and lonely tunnel of love notes went on and on and on.

Was there ever going to be light at the end of this tunnel?

Today: “I see the light.” This May, my youngest son graduates from UNC Charlotte (he’s on the five-year plan, so if he wants to go a sixth year, it’s on him). In spite of attending for a fifth year, I am very proud of him. He is graduating with a triple major in engineering, physics and mathematics.

Therefore, this weekend is a special time of celebration. Even though graduation is four months away, I am done, finished, it is over – no more loves notes to UNC Charlotte, no more tuition bills. We are having a party!

I learned over the years we need to celebrate more things in our life. In the book “Jack,” the autobiography of the famous CEO of General Electric, Jack Welsh speaks about this topic of celebrations. He told GE he would not hire a vice president of celebrations. GE executives needed to celebrate more victories. They needed to find ways to celebrate their accomplishments at GE. I find the same is true, whether it is in the workplace, one’s home or our personal life.

Have you ever found yourself just rushing through life? There you are, working on a project. You achieve the goal. Instead of pausing and celebrating, you miss this celebration opportunity and begin working on the next project that is on your “to do” list. You don’t savor that moment for what it is. A challenge was in front of you, you pursued it and you achieved it. I want you to take a few moments and celebrate it.

I’m reminded of the Bible verse that says, “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We need to give thanks. We need to pause and celebrate. We need to savor those incredible moments when things do come together. Life doesn’t always have celebrations. Sometimes life is going to be hard. It is during those hard times, those times in the valley, when we need to be reminded of those special moments when it all came together, that time we had a “blowout” celebration.

Rev. Tony Marciano is the executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission and a regular South Charlotte Weekly columnist. He is available to speak to your group. Call 704-334-4635, ext. 213, to schedule him.

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