Friday, July 17, 2009

Get out of the box.

"Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye"

Mike and the Mechanics -- "The Living Years"

The song is a ballad of regret expressed by a son about having never told his father how he really felt about his father's expectations of him and his "failure" to live up to what his father felt he should be. I am so fortunate not to have had this kind of relationship with my dad -- or either of my parents for that matter. I have not ever once felt disappointment from my parents about my performance in life, even during times that I look back now and can clearly see what a disappointment I must have been in the moment.

So I can't really connect with this song very much -- I never have been able to. But on a different, broader front, if you don't pay attention to ALL of the lyrics, the song seems to be passing on a message that each of us could stand to listen to. I've written about it before, but not with this spin on it. I've said before that I believe we are all very much guilty of not taking advantage of hundreds of chances we are confronted with each day to speak a kind word, make contact, pay attention, be sincere, make a phone call, say hello, serve. It's not something to beat yourself up about -- it's something to seek improvement with. And in the last two weeks I've realized a little bit more clearly how important it is to seek that improvement.

See, I can't seek improvement now when it comes to communication with my dad. I know he's with me and in me and I believe I can talk to him and he'll listen and I believe I can still learn from him. And don't get me wrong -- my relationship with dad was good. Heck, it was great. Thank GOODNESS he had surgery a couple months ago, because I've spoken with him at least weekly, I think, since then. I've spoken with him more times in the last 8 weeks than in the 8 months prior to that. I'm so thankful for that. We didn't get neck-deep in any father-son philosophical conversations or anything -- there haven't been any major dilemmas he guided me through in that time... But we've talked. We've talked about soccer! We've talked about pain and recovery from surgery. We've talked about God. And we laughed together! Man, my dad could laugh. I bet his laugh echoes even more in heaven than it did here. What a joy it must be to the ears of those who dwell in that mansion.

So what's my point? Well, my point is, my communication with my dad wasn't the best. It got better recently, but I wonder where we would have been, with each other, if we hadn't each had a surgery within the last couple months. I think he would have probably died without feeling particularly connected with me in life recently. I KNOW I would have felt that way. I'm so glad I don't feel that way.... the feeling would absolutely devastate me. Maybe it would you, too.

Slapping me in the face today is the fact that every person has the opportunity to do what dad and I did in recent weeks, but so many people don't see it or don't see the need for it or don't care about it or don't realize the possible consequences if they pass it up. So I'm calling you out now ....

Call your dad.
Call your mom.
Call your brothers, sisters, sons, daughters.
Speak to your coworkers.
Acknowledge a stranger.
Don't FAIL to appreciate the relationships you have with God's children. With God's hands and feet. And don't FAIL to communicate your appreciation.

There is some improvement that can be made in your relationships with the people in your life. And maybe, just maybe, tomorrow you won't have a chance with someone.

The Shack teaches that God can use any situation, no matter how devastating or ugly or hideous or evil-seeming it may be, to God's purpose and God's glory.

My dad, at his best -- in his essence -- was a great healer, a great reconciler, a great mediator, a great forgiver. Since his death I have seen healing happen as a result of his death or people's feelings about it...

Maybe you have the opportunity to continue dad's legacy within the relationships in your life.
Maybe there's something broken about one or more of your relationships that you can take a step toward repairing.

But maybe not. Maybe you feel like your relationships are pretty healthy, thank you very much. In that case, I promise you that you can do nothing but good for calling some of those people or emailing them or changing your Facebook status or tweeting...
Thanks for being my friend, my parent, my pastor, my child.
Serve the people around you -- It's Not About You.
Give someone an encouraging word and then be intentional about taking advantage of the opportunities you have throughout your days to let folks know you appreciate them.

Because if you miss the chance today, you may not see them tomorrow.

I know it is cliché, but I'm just telling you, friends... never before has cliché been so blasted real and so blasted final.
And so blasted painful.

I love y'all.
THANK YOU, anyone who's thought of us or prayed for us or offered a kind word in the last two weeks.
THANK YOU to anyone who will continue to pray for us in the days and weeks to come.
THANK YOU to anyone who made it to the visitation or the funeral and witness a celebration of my dad's life.
THANK YOU to those at Honey Creek camp this week who have patiently loved my family through their grief.
THANK YOU to anyone who reads this and honors my dad by making a decision to be intentional and proactive about tending your relationships with loved ones and strangers.

(I am going to take this opportunity to (again) recommend a book to you. It's called Leadership and Self Deception and is by The Arbinger Institute. A coworker recommended it to me and I am so thankful she did. There is no soul alive whose body should not get its hands on this book and read it. It can be a life-changing experience.)

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