Monday, January 26, 2015

Do I GET to Go Pick Her Up?

A longtime family friend died very unexpectedly last week in a house fire. Jan grew up with this gentleman. He was two years older than her. She had known him all of her life. I have known his entire family for almost 20 years. I watched his boys grow up. They are outstanding young men.

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, close friends gathered to support those men, as they coped with the harsh reality of sudden loss. During the course of several phone calls I became aware of gestures of kindness that were appropriate and even sacrificial. It was one of the most of the moments that my belief in the goodness of people was renewed!

But what stands out to me more than anything is a comment that was made in the midst of the immediate crisis. I am fully aware of the inane comments that people can make in the aftermath of a sudden death. Perhaps “stupid” is a harsh word, but it often fits… But the comment that stands out to me was by no means offensive.

The spouse of one of the boys was out of the state when all of this occurred.  Plans were made to have her flown to DFW airport in Dallas. Who will make the 12 hour round trip to Dallas to pick up her up and bring her to the hometown of her husband? He was not in a position to leave at that point.  A family friend that was present during this conversation said: “Do I get to go pick her up at the airport?” Ifyou place the emphasis on the word “get”, you have some inkling of the attitude that was expressed.
He went. He picked her up. There were delays for various reasons. He took it all in stride. And he delivered her safely to be with her husband during a time of unspeakable grief.

A simple comment. But I am holding on to it… In fact, I have realized that my vocabulary is deficient. I don’t know when and how to use the word “get.” What do I “get” to do today? How will I “get” to serve someone in need? I am grateful that I “get” to know such remarkable people. I have known the man that made this comment for a number of years. But I choose not reveal his name or he might “get” to sew my lips shut permanently.  He is an unassuming man that knows how to love.

“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Matt. 12:34)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I Have NO Problem Assessing Another Person's Character...or Lack of It!

I have no problem issuing statements. 
Declaring my assessment of another’s person’s character is actually quite easy.  “He is mean.”   “She is judgmental.”  “He is lazy.” “She is a gossip.”  Such statements can be even more specific.  “He is exclusive and not inclusive in his relationships with people.”  “She resents people that have obtained advanced degrees.”  I can assess a person’s character in a matter of seconds by stating what certainly appears to be obvious.

I often experience great difficulty asking questions.
How am I mean to other people?  In particular, how have I been mean to the person that I perceive to be that way?  In what situations do I find myself being judgmental? When am I lazy?  What triggers me to gossip about another person?  When was the last time I excluded another person from my social circle?  In what ways do I resent people that have enjoyed experiences that I somehow missed in life?

Questions should precede statements.
There is a time to make statements.  There are times to be honest and say: that person needs to learn a few lessons about being socially inclusive. But I think the character assessment of another person will be more constructive if questions precede statements.  Self-evaluation has a way of removing smugness.  Asking the hard questions peels the layers of pride away.

Am I too late for a resolution?
We are already ten days into a new year.  Is it too late to express a New Year’s resolution?  I hope not!   I have just resolved to ask more questions and issue fewer premature statements that malign another person’s character.  I am anxious to see how that will transform some attitudes that really need to change.