Monday, April 21, 2008

Another loss

A couple of weeks ago I felt another loss. This time it was the father of a good high school friend. But, that description doesn't seem to do him justice. Our families were close as far back as I can remember. In fact, his two boys stayed the night with us when their sister was born. He and my father served together as elders for decades. We camped together. I sang on the praise team with his wife. I went to college with his son, who I considered one of my few really good friends from high school on. I hung out at their house nearly every Saturday night for three or four years straight.

Although I didn't have a super-close relationship with this man, our lives were lived in close proximity. He was like a second father or an uncle. I was completely comfortable to be myself in his presence as if I were in my own family. Some people get uncomfortable around "The Elders", but I tended to see them as just my Dad and my old family friends. This particular man, who had the memorable name of Browning, was not just an Elder, but chairman of the Elders. He cared about people deeply. He had the gift of hopitality, teaching, administration, and service. He was active in church service at the time of his death. He is sorely missed by family, friends, the whole church he worked with, and untold number of people who were touched by his life.

Browning was not all that old by my reckoning (of course that changes as I age). He was about 67. He had a few chronic health issues, but you wouldn't know it by looking at him. His death was a surprise to everybody. Usually, we expect people to have obvious failing health, a retirement from active involvement in the business of life, and then death comes after some lingering illness. We don't expect it to come so suddenly.

I haven't been able to figure out if I'm feeling his loss more because I cared about him that much, or if I am hurting for my friend who has lost a father, or if I am realizing that this is another of my parent's generation to go and I begin to miss my own parents already. It is probably a little of all of the above. I've been to more memorial services in the past couple of years than I ever had in my previous ten (which included the deaths of my own grandparents). Maybe I'm just realizing the fragility of life a little more personally than I used to.

Whatever the reasons, I will miss seeing Browning's smile the next time I visit my home church. He was a good man, and I'm glad that he was a part of my life.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Don't you hate it when you feel God correcting you?

Several times in the last week, I have been feeling God correcting me about a personality flaw. I have joked about it and taken an unbecoming pride in it and now I need to work at changing it.

I have a mercy problem. That is I need to work my mercy muscles so that they can do the work God has me to do. I began to realize this in the past week when the Pillowfight fairy was starting to show problem behaviors as a result from anxiety, and I was trying to force her to push through it and toughen up. I suppose I felt the need to push, because I am an adult and I can see no good reason for her fears. But, when I look back to my own childhood, I see myself as an equally fearful kid. I remember the terror I had at things that were perfectly ordinary and the frustration the rest of the family had with me. I was labeled a "sensitive child" by my teachers and a "Cry-baby" by my peers. I wanted to give my daughter a different road, and in the process, I didn't see that she is a sensitive child and I need to be understanding instead of playing the meany.

I remember hearing a variety of stories (I think one of them is in Anne of Green Gables) where someone acknowledges a flaw of theirs but tells the person they are talking to that "that's just the way I am, you'll have to get used to it." The other person replies that such an attitude is crazy. Whether the habit is outbursts of anger, tactlessness, or in my case a lack of mercy when it is needed, the proper response is to try to change for the better. I have no right to hold on to hurtful habits out of selfishness. So I am going to try to turn over a new leaf and learn to show mercy to my children more. I will try to learn to use gentleness in getting around problems as much as I can.

Lately, the Pillowfight Fairy seems to be needing more one-on-one time with Mommy, so I will start there. I will do more of our daily activities with her instead of sending her off to do things on her own (freeing me up for other stuff). It is tempting to try to rush her growing up for my own convenience, but although she looks old enough to be seven or eight (because of her height mostly), she is only five and needs the gentleness that most five year-olds need. I remember that I was always tall for my age and so was mistaken for an older child. But, I was really slightly behind in my emotional development. I suspect my oldest girl is the same way. I'll try to remember what it was like to be that age a little more as I help her navigate the ups and downs of her life.