Words, A Generous Gift

bathroom pic

Lisa did a good thing right before she died.  She wrote a very simple card to me telling me she loved me and that I had done all that I could for her.  She essentially said, “No guilt Danny.  No guilt.”  She told me to move forward in my life – to remarry.  Her exact words were, “You’re not good by yourself.”  Yeah.  She knew.

What a generous things for her to do.  Selfless.  Not surprising.

I have no guilt.  I have no angst about moving forward with my girlfriend, Julie.  I don’t know if I would have without the final check off, mybe so.  But it surely is nice not to question.

In a way, those who know they are going to die have an advantage.  If they choose, they can get their affairs straight.  They can share how much they love their friends and family.  They can help alleviate any feelings of guilt.  They can plan with their loved ones.

One would think that someone like me would fully be prepared to die.  I’m not scared to die, sometimes it is actually more scary to live in this world than to ponder death.  But I don’t think I’ve done a great job of planning for what could come.

Do my kids know that I absolutely adore them?  And not in a general sort of I love you way.  Do they know why I love them, individually?  Do they know what I think is most wonderful about each of them?

At some point over the past year or two, my parents wrote a letter to me just to let me know they are proud of me.  It’s framed in my bathroom (my favorite room in the house).

Do those I work with understand their importance in my life?  How they’ve stretched me and made me grow?

Am I vocal enough with Julie about my feelings for her?  Danny Tanner is not always easy to love.  I come with a lot.  I am thankful she’s in for the long haul.

Have I thoughtfully thanked all those who stood by me in my darkest times?  The ones who tossed my up on their shoulders and carried me when I couldn’t walk myself.

Oh, they’ll get their reward in heaven, but wouldn’t it be nice if I took the time now to let them know that I haven’t forgotten – that I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

I hope I don’t die tomorrow.  I am not prepared.

 

Forgiveness

I grew up across the street from a kid who had a difficult life.  I think his parents, although loving, were pretty hard on him.  They were considerably older than most parents with kids our age.

He was always a bit overweight which was also a struggle.  He spent a great deal of time at our house.

We always enjoyed having him around along with the other 8 – 10 kids who spent the summer camped out in our garage.

Our neighbor went to prison 16 years ago for allegedly committing a serious crime.  I’ve written him through the years.  In September, he was released.  Seems like good news for him, huh?

I’m not so sure.

You see, when you do bad stuff, society doesn’t forgive easily.  In some cases, it is understandable.  We have to draw boundaries.  And yet, it is painful for folks to be isolated, regardless of the circumstances.

The cool thing about being a person of faith is that you can rest assured that whatever your offense, it’s OK.  There is no punishment, no prison time, no ostracization – it’s easy.

I, on the other hand, have a tougher time forgiving and moving on.  I still remember Eric Thompkins tripping me on the patio at school in the 9th grade in front of EVERYONE – totally humiliating!  God has forgiven him for that, me, no so much.

My former neighbor’s struggle with reentry to society has given me perspective on second chances.  When you see it up close, it makes you reexamine your own feelings on forgiveness.

Sunday Post 176: Forgive and Forget

Maybe I’ve always held a grudge.

As a child as fairly nondescript. I didn’t excel at much of anything. I wasn’t popular. At the same time, I wasn’t overly weird – didn’t really stand out for good or for bad.

I was bullied on occasion, but I think I was more fearful of being bullied than I was actually bullied. In the few instances where someone did pick on me, I simply worked to avoid the bullier. I’d change my lunch table or take a different path home from school. But I never forgot. To this day I can recount the handful of times someone messed with me – the hour of day I was approached and the exact words that were said.

My children, on the other hand, seem to forgive and move on. It’s actually a quite honorable trait.

Several years ago, I invited a group of eight girls to go the mall to select outfits for the upcoming school dance. The posse paraded around Crabtree Valley, poking in and out of stores and critiquing each other’s choices. The next week, one of the girls sent an email out to the group asking if they wanted to dress for the dance at her house. Well, she sent an email out to six of the kids. She didn’t send one to my daughter and one other. She explained it was because her mom said she could only invite six.

Maybe they could only fit that many in their car and their phone was on the fritz so they couldn’t ask another parent to help drive the group to the school. Or perhaps they were planning a formal dinner and only had seating for six at their dining room table. It could be that six was their lucky number! Maybe including seven or eight would have put a curse on the family. Perhaps they had an older house with electrical issues and they feared two more curling irons would have started a fire. All great reasons to exclude my child.

I certainly understand that not every kid can be invited to every party. And had I not just taken this Queen Bee to the mall myself TO PURCHASE AN OUTFIT FOR SAID DANCE, it wouldn’t have bothered me that my kid wasn’t invited.

Interestingly, my daughter was not fazed. She said, “It’s OK dad, we’ll just invite a group here for dinner.”

I, on the other hand, wanted to go punch her mother in the nose.

My kid is so forgiving, I am not. It’s been several years and I still hold the grudge. I see the kid and turn up my nose. My daughter says, “Dad, she’s not so bad. I sort of like her.”

I want to tell her to stay away from the creep.

Maybe my girls are right. Maybe the thing to do isn’t to just avoid those who do you ill will. I guess forgiving, forgetting and starting over is the better thing to do.

I’m an elder at my church which I guess would somehow make it seem like I should be the one driving the forgiveness train. But sometimes I’m taught more from my kids than I’m teaching.

Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

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Sunday Post 165: A Second Chance to Live

I was at a conference last week in San Antonio. It was for YMCA staff and volunteers who raise money as part of their job. We do a lot of that – most Y’s use the support to help kids in need attend Y camp and tutor programs.

This year, we had a keynote speaker who really made me do some thinking. Her name is Amanda Lindhout, and she if the Founder of the Global Enrichment Foundation. Unfortunately, she landed in a position of remarkable philanthropy not because of something good. No, she was actually kidnapped when in Somalia to photograph a refugee camp. She was held by teenage terrorists for over 400 days in horrible conditions while enduring significant torture.

Her Canadian parents worked for a year to raise the $1.5 M ransom to free their daughter. She finally returned home – but not as the person who had left 14 months prior.

I suppose in this situation, most people would have holed up, filled with anger and fear. Amanda didn’t do that. Instead, she realized she could be bitter and resentful or, she could look at life another way. She spent countless hours thinking about her captors. She came to the conclusion that their actions were driven out of desperation – out of a lack of hope and opportunity in a country that is bombarded with war.

Her response was to start anew. So, she started a foundation that would support the people of Somalia, bringing them food, education, and hope. Instead of hatred, she found hope and love.

On my trip I also heard of another woman who had lost her husband many years ago. Her children are grown. She has nothing left. She is alone.  She is still struggling with sadness and questions.

What gives some the strength to move forward while others are unable to put their life back together after trauma?

It’s Easter. Whether you believe Jesus is the Son of God and died for our sins or whether you don’t, there has to be a lesson in the story shared throughout the New Testament. Jesus was hung on a cross and killed, and his sacrifice, his horrific death, brought about peace and hope for people for centuries.

Whether the Son of God or the victim of violence – whether suffering extreme personal loss or the fear of death, we ultimately all have two ways to respond. We can crawl under a rock and quit. Or, we can get help and work toward a new beginning – one that perhaps does more good than our first one.

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