Last month I wrote about Tyler, who was killed in a car accident in August. We buried him on a Monday. On Tuesday, a childhood friend took his own life. On Wednesday, my friend Jane lost her battle with congestive heart failure. That was a hard week.
My heart still hurts.
My heart hurts because Tyler felt unloved and unpopular while he was living. He wasn’t here to see the outpouring of love in the days after his death. I wish he’d known how many people loved him.
Jane and I worked together for almost fifteen years. She was proud to be a Jesus follower and always ready to share her faith. The day she died, our office was filled with stories about her strong faith and infectious laugh. She was an encourager, helpful and dependable. She was a tremendous asset to our office. Many of my coworkers said they wish they’d let her know these things.
Now they can’t.
Riley took his life. This absolutely wrecks my soul. What hopelessness he must have felt to think that death was the only way to soothe his heart. And I wonder… did he know Jesus? That question steals my breath. His family’s social media is full of memories of Riley’s smile, of his sweetness, of the mark he left on people’s lives, and of how very much he will be missed.
Did he know that so many people loved him?
We spend so much time looking at what needs to be fixed in people. We focus on how they disappoint us or let us down. Too many times, it isn’t until someone dies that we realize their value, their strengths, their gifts, and how much they mean to us. Sometimes, it’s not until someone dies that we realize just how much space they took up in our world or how often they encouraged us and brightened our days. When they are gone, we suddenly wish we’d done more, said more, encouraged more… loved more.
Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:15 NIV)
James Taylor’s song, “Shower the People” keeps running through my mind…
“Shower the people you love with love. Tell them the way that you feel.”
Who needs to know that they brighten your day, make your life easier, encourage you, or comfort you?
Who do you thank God for?
Have you told them how much they mean to you?
What are you waiting for?
Maybe YOU feel overlooked and taken for granted. Sweet reader, if no one has told you lately, you matter. It MATTERS that you are here. I may not know you, but I know this for certain: God created you just the way He wants you. The Creator of all the universe chose the color of your skin, hair, and eyes. God Almighty placed compassion, empathy, and passion in your soul. The Lord of the Universe gifted you with specific personality traits and talents because HE has a purpose for you and your life!
David says it this way in Psalms:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14 NIV
Oh Father! Forgive me for taking the people you have placed in my life for granted. Prick my heart and make me aware of the people in my life who brighten my days and ease my burdens. Whether it is my spouse, child, parent, coworker, teacher, sibling, friend or the cashier at the store who rings up my energy drink each morning, give me opportunity and words to encourage the people in my life. Forgive me for focusing on others’ (and my own) shortcomings, disappointments and failures. Forgive me for forgetting that we are ALL “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”. Do not let me be so busy that I overlook those in my path who are struggling and need to be encouraged. Let me be light in dark places. Fill my heart to overflowing with YOUR love so that it spills onto anyone who bumps into me. Amen