Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Friendships of the Sturdy Variety

Judy Siburt is one of my all-time favorite people.  In a recent post, she made the following observation.  “A gift of a long, sturdy friendship is one of God's greatest blessings.”  I understand the concept of long-time friendship really well.  But the word “sturdy” caused me to pause.  I have used that word in reference to a woodworking project, but not as a descriptor of friendship.  But who am I to question a career educator regarding word choice!

“Sturdy.”  It is a good word to describe meaningful friendship.  A sturdy friendship remains intact after the storms of life rage on year after year. And a friendship that is sturdy will endure even in the aftermath of interpersonal conflict.  In sickness and in health, the relationship endures.

Distance challenges even the best of friendships.  Someone accepts a job in a new city. Tearful goodbyes are said.  Promises to stay in contact are issued.  But life moves on. And the geographical distance fosters relational distance. But sturdy friendships are the exception.  Contact is maintained.  Plane tickets are purchased.  And the relationship remains solid.

And then there is the ultimate challenge.  A death occurs. People change their plans to attend their longtime friend’s funeral service.  Some travel long distances and take vacation days at their job in order to comfort a family they love.  Hugs are shared.  Funny stories are shared.  Lots of tears are shed.  But as sad as it is, sometimes friendships change after a death. But those of the sturdy variety remain standing.

Judy knows what she is talking about.  And her word choice is indicative of her background as an educator.  I must say that I agree with her.  Long and sturdy friendship IS one of one of God’s greatest blessings.

 I have friends I met the summer before my second grade year.  After all of these years, we still love each other. And I have friends I met in high school.  If we can survive the things we did together as teenagers, then there is not much question regarding the sturdiness of our friendships. I have served several churches over the course of my career 29 year career.  My friendships with the members of those churches remains.  And I have served law enforcement agencies in three communities over a span of 26 years in chaplaincy.  My relationships with those public servants remains sturdy.

I have also faced that ultimate challenge in friendship.  Five of my friends I grew up with have passed away.  But my loyalty to them now extends to their spouses, children, and even grandchildren.  I am grateful that sturdiness can be equated with extending loyalty to those people my friends loved and cared for most.

Thank you Judy.  You expanded my vocabulary and caused me to give thanks on this Thanksgiving holiday. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"Some Jive Talkin Fool is Going to Come Along..."

Dr. Jerry Taylor is one of my all-time favorite speakers.  I have invited him to speak every year since I have been in Granbury.  And he spoke for us at an old fashioned tent meeting when I was serving in Woodward, OK.  He is a fine man.

Last Sunday he hit a home-run. His sermon was convicting, inspiring, and moving. I laughed, cried, and had my toes stepped on during the course of one lesson! It was just good. During the course of his sermon he impressed on us the importance of passing values on to the next generation. He was not shy.  We are going to have to be purposed and thoughtful in such a commitment.  We are going to have to personally engage our children in meaningful dialogue.

He also stressed the importance of affirming our children.  Beating our children down is not going to help them grow.  Berating them has negative consequences.  Being sarcastic or caustic is not going to propel the process of passing values on to the next generation.

He told us that  he tells his daughter all of the time that she is attractive.  If she gets her hair fixed in a different way, he makes a point to notice. He is purposed in complimenting her and building her esteem.
And then he said: “When some jive-talkin fool comes along and starts telling her how attractive she is, she will respond by saying: “You are not telling me anything I have not already heard!  My daddy has been telling me that all of my life!”  Of course we all laughed. But he is right…our girls need to hear that from their daddy’s.  And our boys need to hear that they are smart, clever, and masculine. Let’s pass on values. But let’s do it in a context of consistent affirmation.

Thank you, Jerry.  I am a better man because of you.  And bless that jive-talkin fool that approaches your daughter. He may need a prayer...

Friday, November 6, 2015

You can't Hide Your Trash: A Commentary on Hypocrisy

The word “hypocrite” is often misapplied.  The term is commonly applied to those that display their flaws at the most inopportune times.  But that is a misapplication.  The term was originally used to refer to onstage actors in ancient Greece.  If you are a true hypocrite, you are simply playing a part really well. 

I have known a few hypocrites over the years.  You have too.  There really are people that are insincere.  They want others to think they are kind, altruistic, and generous. But the truth is: they are wolves in sheep’s clothing.  It’s all a very carefully choreographed act.  They have trashy mouths that speak from an equally trashy character, when they think no one is paying attention.  When their true character surfaces, those around them are often shocked and disappointed.  I am reminded today that there are certain people that you can’t hide your trashy character from, even if you really try!

A friend’s mother passed away very recently.  The gentleman that checked her out at the grocery store on a regular basis was visibly moved when he learned of her death. He liked her. He looked forward to seeing her. There is no doubt based on his reaction that she took time to engage him in conversation and treat him like a real human being.  And then there is the trash collector. The lady’s son shares the reaction of this man upon learning of his client’s death: “Early this morning, I walked outside and informed the trash collector that Mom had died last month. He stopped the truck. Trying to fight back tears unsuccessfully, he told me how much he loved seeing my mom every Friday.”

I think there a lot of people that you can successfully hide your true character from with relative ease.  But you can’t hide your character from the person that checks you out at the grocery store. (I can speak from experience on that one!) And you certainly can’t conceal your true self from the person that collects your trash every week.  Rude and hateful people are not known for being kind to the trash collector.
Do you want to learn about a person’s true character?  Go ask the person that checks them out at the grocery store.  Inquire at the dry cleaners.  Seek out the person that waits on them in a restaurant on a regular basis.  And….do not forget to ask the trash collector about that individual.

What will your trash collector say about you? When you depart this earth, will he shed a tear?  Or…will he look forward to someone else occupying the place you called home?  Don’t forget…you can’t hide your trash....And that is especially true with the trash collector!   Blessed are the sincere...