How suddenly our lives can be turned upside down. We’re aware of the big stuff: A fatal car accident. A heart attack out of nowhere. A stroke. Even suicide. Our own lives were smashed hard this week with news of a death of a beloved young man in the expanded family. Someone I knew - but didn’t really know well, but his untimely death has left me feeling very numb.
Sometimes our lives can be turned around for good – or for disaster – sometimes simply because you, or someone, does something, or says something. Our words and actions can heal or destroy. I’ve certainly done my share of both. No doubt we all have.
Think of the loved ones you have in your family. Then broaden it out to your friends and neighbors. Is there anything you can say or do to each one that just might turn their day around? We all know how words can make or break a day—or even a life.
The other day I took the time to tell one of the back-office ladies at our firm how much we all appreciated her behind-the-scenes work. My note was detailed. She immediately emailed me back stating how touching that was. My little off-the-cuff note made her day. It brightened her week. She had no idea so many of us felt that way, as I had stated. That note, which took me probably three minutes to write, could have changed her life.
On the other hand, with my lips and tongue I have also wounded fragile hearts at times in my life. I don’t want to do that anymore. “Let your words be seasoned with grace”, the Apostle Paul was inspired to write.
How many suicides might be averted if someone, anyone, would have taken the time to call and say, “Hey, I was just thinking about you and…” – take it from there. When you’re down and depressed, to have a loving and friendly unexpected call from someone could save your life. “Wow, someone actually cares. Someone actually thought of me”.
I really feel too many of us are getting away from the knack of just being there, being a friend. The hand on the shoulder when times are rough. Just listening – face to face. And telling someone how nice they are, or how something they did or said has changed lives. It’s especially wonderful when we can trace the nice things someone has said or done to their relationship with Christ.
Click on “Continue reading” to learn about a little note I’m so glad I wrote to my dad.
How many times have you wished you had said or done something – but you didn’t – and then the opportunity was lost because that person died, or moved on somewhere else. Or how many times have we wished we hadn’t said or done something? Boy, I’ve had too many of those too.
Especially when someone has really botched things in their marriage, or their job, or in any aspect of their life – and is feeling really down – be there for that person. Let them know you’re still their friend and your feelings for them haven’t changed and you’re not their judge.
Let me tell you about my relationship with my dad.
My father and I had become estranged in my teen years. He and mom were going through a nasty divorce when I was 13. I never revealed this to either parent, and nobody knew – but I often quietly cried myself to sleep on a tear-soaked pillow too many nights. I didn’t like the divorce one bit. And in the meantime, on other issues, my dad and I had become estranged. Part of it was over religious beliefs. My dad felt that I didn’t trust him or like him. I felt abandoned, on the other hand. I resented having to grow up without a dad, without any money, and my poor mom faced life all alone as she tried to provide for four teenage children.
Then shortly after I turned 30, I began to realize how I was losing so much by not being closer to my dad. I loved mom so much too, but their marital issues were their issues, not mine. I wanted to honor him. I knew some of his faults but I also was aware of the tremendous good he had done for hundreds of people in his ministry in the Philippines. So one day I took the time to write a 2 page letter detailing how proud I actually was of him. My dad had a mission where he had a senior home and an orphanage. Literally dozens and dozens of children over the years were saved by Dad taking them in to the mission. Our family adopted two Filipino boys into our immediate family as well. Dad took the message of Christ and His cross way up to the mountains and the former head-hunting areas of remote parts of the country. People were being clothed, being fed, being nursed and cared for, being healed and being taught – all because of God working in my dad.
For the first time, I took the time to tell my dad in writing that I saw all that. I knew all that. I appreciated all that. And that he made me proud to be the son of a such a wonderful man (yes, in spite of the divorce and other problems). I took the time to thank him for the values he instilled in me. For the good examples he had set, that would shape me for the rest of my life. Sure, we’re all human and he wasn’t perfect, but that wasn’t the point of this note at this time and place.
But it’s all too easy to just tell ourselves, “Dad knows what I think of him” – and leave it at that. But if you haven’t said specific things, do it now, while you can. Your words could heal old wounds, bring joy to the heart and a skip in his step. Ditto for your mom. Ditto for your brothers and sisters. Have you told them what a wonderful sister or brother they are and list some reasons you feel that way. Believe me, it will make a difference.
A few weeks later, I got a letter back from dad. It took time, you see, for mail to go from where I was in Canada at the time, to the Philippines and back. In his response, he bared his soul and exposed his heart. He said he had no idea that I thought that of him. He said he thought I hated him – which wasn’t the case either, but I’d never said all those good things before. He said it touched his heart immensely and that he wept as he read my note.
The estrangement was over. Dad and son – were together again. All because God put it in my heart to reconcile and to encourage my dad. And all during this time he was struggling with some other issues, including heart attacks.
Now to the point of this blog: a few days after receiving my dad’s note, I received a phone call from my mother. She asked if I was ready for some sad news. My father had just died. He was only 62. I was only 31.
But I would have thought there was plenty of time to write notes, to talk to, to be nice to, to reconcile. Plenty of time. No hurry. But there wasn’t plenty of time. Dad was gone. What if I hadn’t written that note? I was so glad I had written it – but what if I hadn’t?
That’s why I title this blog – “do it now, while you can.” Redeem the time. Make the most of the time you have with those around you. Time is too short to have quarrels and to be estranged from your dad or daughter or son.
Right now, while God’s spirit stirs in your heart, ask yourself: who can use some encouragement? Who would love to receive a phone call – just because? Is there someone out there I can reconcile with? Is there someone out there I can ask forgiveness of – or offer forgiveness and be whole again. Do it now, while you can.
Just think: a few kind words telling someone – while you can – what you think of them. Or pass on a kind comment about them that you heard from someone else. Or tell a child something special about him or her that you have noticed or heard about them. Do it now, while you can.
I know with my grandsons, even the smallest comment can bring out a huge smile. Notice they’re growing. Notice and comment on their kind acts, or their developing strength. Or how clever they are in Scrabble or other games.
Maybe start with your wife or husband. Have you written a note and put it in his briefcase just to tell him how blessed you feel to have a spouse like him? Don’t wait just for the special holidays when these sentiments are almost required or expected. Mother’s Day or Father’s day can be any day and your words and actions may mean more when it’s done “today” – and not just on a holiday. Do it now, while you can.
Wouldn’t it mean so much to someday find out that someone changed their life – or even stayed alive – because you showed you cared for them? The kind word. The encouraging action. Maybe those words and actions led someone to repentance and to accepting the Messiah as their Savior.
Do it now, while you can. Say it now, while you can.