Saturday, February 13, 2016

Are You are a Part of one of "Those" Families?

So…are you are a part of one of “those” families?  That sounds disturbing, doesn’t it?  If you have a niece who always refers to you as Uncle Buck, you could be a part of one of “those” families.  When you are 53 years old, and your sisters still get nervous about going out in public with you, you could be the person that is making your family one of “those” families.  I confess. I contribute substantially to making those related to me by blood one of “those” families.


A few weeks ago my definition of one of “those” families experienced a complete transformation.  It all began in the surgical waiting room at a heart hospital.  A dear friend was undergoing an extensive heart-related procedure.  I was troubled because a previous commitment impeded me from being there. And then the report on the surgery came in that afternoon…Every aspect of it went well.  But something very significant occurred out in the waiting room while my friend was under anesthesia.


This particular friend has buried both of his children.  One son died in his 20’s of a heart-related matter. And his other son died of cancer in his 30’s.  And then more recently, he lost his wife to cancer.  After all of these events, he is still the kind of person you truly enjoy spending time with.  In fact, he is a breath of fresh air to everyone privileged to cross paths with him.


Who is in the surgery waiting room, when you are the only surviving person in your immediate family?  That’s a good question!   His sister drove over four hours to be there.  And she stayed for weeks after the procedure to care for him at home.  And his friends showed up in force! I was not surprised.  But the presence of the final group is what really touched me…


Members of his wife’s family turned out like you can’t imagine.   Two days before the surgery I noticed he had a couple of younger ladies sitting by him in church.  He had nieces from his wife’s side of the family sitting on either side of him.  (and yes he pointed out to me how nice it was to have two young, attractive ladies sitting by him.)  When he was wheeled back to get things started that morning, he knew a small army was out there supporting him.


At the final count, there were 26 people in the surgery waiting room that Tuesday morning.  When it was relayed to me who comprised that group, I had one thought… He is a part of one of “those” families.  He is a part of a group that is caring, loyal, and unselfish.  That’s true of his blood relatives. But he also married into one of “those” families.  His wife’s family continues to care about him.  And I don’t ever see that changing. 


After hearing the news about the “26” in the waiting room, I stopped to reflect.  Would my niece come see her Uncle Buck?  I think she would.  And I would hate to be the nurse that was not kind to her Uncle Buck…. Would my sisters show up?  Well of course they would...If was under anesthesia, it would be the first time in history that I could not possibly embarrass them.


And what about my wife’s family?  After all, we are only related by marriage.  I quickly answered in the affirmative. They indeed are caring, loyal, and unselfish.   I have seen them in action recently. My children have been the receiving end of their kindness of late.   They comprise one of “those” families.  I am grateful to be a part.


Now I must ask myself:  what am I contributing to my blood family and my family by marriage to make us one of “those” families? 


 I am thankful for the “26.” They modeled behavior I needed to observe.  But their kindness was by no means extended exclusively to my friend that day at the hospital.   Another compelling event took place right there in the waiting room that same morning.  I plan to share that in “Part II.” 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Before You Blow Up and Get Angry....

At some point, our friends are going to irritate us.  It’s inevitable.  Members of our family are going to offend us.  It happens.  We are going to be tempted to get really angry and blow up! 

  What happens to a relationship, when the breakdown is significant?  I was really irked with someone recently.  I will forgo the details in order to protect the guilty.  But I will share some choices I made that feel really important.


I asked myself: What caused the offensive behavior on the part of the other person?  Here is what I concluded:

The person in question is lacking in social skills.  (That’s a reality and not a criticism.)

The person in question is going through a major life change. (That’s understandable.)


Then I asked myself a second question….

When someone is lacking in social skills, should I show them mercy?  (of course...)


When someone is going through a major life change, should I extend mercy?  (I would think so!)


After posing such questions to myself, I assumed a very different attitude.  The focus shifted from being irritated to being intent on showing mercy.  That’s a deal changer.   Relationships are preserved when mercy triumphs over judgement.  Good things happen when we choose to love someone no matter where they are in the journey of life.  We consider their failures and extend mercy.   My anger toward the person in question has not subsided.  But I am choosing to be merciful.  I am confident good things will happen as a result.