I can say that the two examples above are similar to most of the others in my life like them.....I honestly didn't intend to say anything that was hurtful or out of place, it just sorta came out that way. Most of those times it was because I was oblivious to a certain situation or was just plain ole naive. I've found that even at 45 years old that I am actually pretty good at being naive. I guess it's a gift. Don't hate.
Another one of those common shoe-chewing segments of life, at least for me, is found when visiting the funeral home. During these most delicate times we want to say just the right and timely thing to members of a grieving family. As sincerely and as compassionately as we might try, we may yet still leave the funeral home scratching our heads wondering how in the world we could have messed up our condolence speech. I guess it's one of those things where the harder you try, the worse it ends up.
Stressful situations seem to bring about these foot to mouth incidences as much as any other. I think it's fair to say that it caught some people off guard a few Sundays ago when it was announced that my position as pulpit minister at the Fairfield church of Christ was coming to an end. Needless to say, even though I had known for a few days that the announcement was going to be made, I absolutely fell to pieces, as if though I was hearing it for the first time like most everyone else. I had already had time to begin making peace with the decision and had put my faith in the divine providence and guidance of God, and yet it was still one of the hardest days of my life. It was primarily that way because of the love that I have for the people of the Fairfield church of Christ and the love that I know most of them have for me. So, in light of the announcement, it created for me, and for a few others as well, the feelings of grief and sadness. You know, sorta like being in a funeral home. We were beginning the process of separation. We were beginning the process of saying goodbye. We were beginning the process of a new phase of life. It was the beginning of the end and the beginning of the beginning all in one.
In the immediate days that followed, the outpouring of kindness to my family was beyond overwhelming. And perhaps, the most humbling part of the entire situation was the emergence of so many well-wishes from people inside and outside of our community who were not members of Fairfield and some who aren't members of a church anywhere. The kindness and love that we have felt has been as a life-preserver in a raging sea.
Much like in a funeral home setting, this situation was one where folks wanted to say the right thing.....wanted to say the sensitive thing.....wanted to say the tactful thing. As a result of our departure from Fairfield, some folks, who were no doubt trying to find just the right words to say, remarked, "Well, he ain't dead. It's gonna be OK." Those well-intentioned people were right on both accounts.....No, I ain't dead and yes, it's gonna be OK:) I myself have many times said the same exact thing about other folks in other similar situations of separation. I too wanted to remind people that some person was just moving on, but they weren't dead. I too wanted to remind people that some person would still be around, just in another capacity, but they weren't dead. I too tried to lighten the mood by reminding people that we weren't throwing dirt on the persons box.....so to lighten the mood I told em to lighten up .... "They ain't dead". But now, I'm not gonna say that anymore, and here's why....
Indeed, I'm not dead any more than those folks that I said the same things about aren't dead. It occurs to me that the word "dead" is what we use when we sometimes actually mean "change". Yes, it actually is true.....some things about that relationship may dead, or at least changed. Yes, it actually is true.....some things about that situation may be dead, or at least changed. Yes, it actually is true.....some things that had become routine were halted, some things that had become comfortable were ceased, some things that had become normalcy were expired. So in some way, on some level, at some depth, yes, death is involved. An end has come. Change has taken place. That phase of life as we knew it is over. Time to move on.
So, the next time someone moves from one phase of life to another.....the next time someone loses a job.....the next time someone loses a home.....the next time someone gets divorced.....the next time someone has some significant change in their lives, think twice before you say "Good grief, lighten up. They ain't dead." If you say those words you are the one that's dead. Dead wrong.