My friend lost a son today.
I just came from my living room with my elbows on my knees, my head between my hands, and tears dropping between my feet. My 2 sons and daughter sleeping peacefully just a few feet away, I was thinking of my friend in a hospital hours away, mourning, in shock, and caring for his two sons and daughter, who just lost a brother, and two of them also injured from the tragic auto accident.
For Memorial Day, my whole family drove, too. We went to the Palo Duro Canyon and hiked up rocky trails, went through caves, walked along steep ridges. We swam in shallow but not transparent water, where a kid is completely hidden from view if he stoops over and dips his head under. And my whole family drove home from our Memorial Day festivities, too.
Additionally, my wife and I made and received several phone calls sweeping us up into the drama of life, some of our own making, and some from the lives of those we love. The dramas of hurt feelings, subtle insecurities, embedded fears, passive-aggressive social manipulations, who-does-what-for-who-and-what-that-means, ego issues and reputation maintenance, while all very real issues (and helpful guideposts) for helping each other know where we need healing in our hearts and more abundant life, just fade to the background and get overshadowed on those days when my friend loses a son.
In light of such tragic clarity, I'm compelled to impatiently and intolerantly give everyone in the world these pieces of blunt and helpful advice, in hopes that they truly are non-negotiable gifts of uncompromising truth that are attainable no matter how much we want to argue otherwise in our less-clear moments (which, sadly, are most of our moments), and also in hopes that I will settle back into being a more grace-full counselor, guide, minister and coach once the exacting impact of this particular day is lost to me, blended into the woodwork of "my past" (which I wish would not happen):
Forgive everyone of everything now.
Never care if you someone else is preferred over you, ever.
Repay evil with kindness every single time you are wronged.
Love everyone. Everyone.
Fight for everyone's heart. Everyone's.
Withhold nothing from your spouse, your kids, and your parents.
Stop lying. And stop believing that "not telling the whole truth" isn't lying.
Use every single dollar you ever have stewardship of to bless others.
Say "I love you" way too much.
Show "I love you" way too much.
Be with those you love way too much and poor, rather than away from them a little and rich.
If you must talk, talk about what matters.
Respect everyone. Everyone.
If you don't look at your kids and marvel, figure out what is wrong with you.
Get over yourself and become a "hugger".
Walk slowly through the crowd.
Stop being offendable.
Be still without being asleep.
Be present without having to be noticed.
Notice without having to be reminded.
Say the negative things after you have exhausted everything you can say that is encouraging to anyone.
Find yourself in every single other person's flaws, that you may love them.
Accept suffering as a gift, that you may leave nothing wasted.
Think the best of all people, that you may be a blessing.
Humble yourself constantly, that you may be lifted up, and not by yourself.
Receive anything good at all as undeserved grace, that you may be a lover of God, and a benefit to those closest to you and to all mankind.
Think of my friend, for a longer amount of time than you have right now. Think of him hugging his wife. Think of him next to his daughter's hospital bed. Think of his tears mixing with his other sons tears. He lost a son today. Starting today, and not by choice, he will feel a little bit more compassion for what our Father in Heaven endured in order to love the world and rescue us from ourselves.
Glorify God by becoming more like Him. We are all driving somewhere with our loved ones today.