I just ran across a guy I knew from high school on Facebook. He may not even remember me – but I sure remember him.
Everybody has weird memories that mean nothing but still – we can remember every moment of an event.
Mine was playing baseball in high school back when little league still extended to that age bracket. I wasn’t very good – I played right field. But I gave it my best and I enjoyed it.
One day during my trek in right field a ball was actually hit my way and I actually caught it. The batter was Eddie. He was a great guy and all around great at all things sport. He was the quarterback on the high school football team – a star at baseball – dated a cheerleader. Everybody loved Eddie.
But this day he hit the ball to me. I started running in after the ball and literally stuck my glove out in front of me and you guessed it – I caught the ball.
Eddie yelled out at no one in particular, but that everyone could hear – “His eyes were closed.”
He was correct – I ran in – eyes closed – stuck my glove in the air and it literally fell into my glove.
I literally had a “Smalls” moment and Eddie was Bennie the jet Rodriguez. Because I know I didn’t catch that ball – Eddie rang my glove like a toss into those barrels at the fair.
I doubt he even remembers it – but that’s the day the big man on campus made a hero out of a right fielder.
What a memory
I had a small class today on conflict management and it got me to thinking about leadership. I remember when I served in Plains I was called to the hospital in Americus. A member had died. Normally this was not shocking – I did it all the time. But this night the deceased was Miss Allie – the mother of Rosalynn Carter.
I was sitting in a chair in a small room talking and chatting. President and Mrs. Carter entered the room and he sat in the chair next to me. By this time in my ministry at Plains the awe of him being there was gone. It was cool – but by this time they were just Mr. Jimmy and Miss Rosalynn and they seemed comfortable in that role as did the people of Plains. I remember this night not to name drop but for what I saw. At one point I looked around the room and several people – myself included – had their legs crossed and most even had their arms crossed across their chests and were even slouched somewhat. But I will never forget Mr. Jimmy – I looked back over my left shoulder and noticed him.
He was in his upper 70’s at this point – he had nothing to prove to anyone and at that moment he could have been any man in their upper 70’s comforting his wife on the death of her mother. But this man in his upper 70’s stood out because of how he was sitting. He wasn’t slouched, no arms were crossed or legs. His whole demeanor even in a time of mourning was an air of confidence. His mother in law – but more importantly his bride – the love of his life – her mother was gone. And he supported her without even opening his mouth.
I thought about this story today because I think it relates to conflict management. I think we can learn that there are times when those around us need us to be strong. And sometimes we can do that without even opening our mouths.
I have become quite a worrier. I fight it with every fiber of my being. Because I know people I love need me to be strong. There are also other times where people need to be strong for me – but we should never lose sight that sometimes the best way to begin conflict management has nothing to do with how eloquently we can debate a point. Sometimes it’s just having a confident demeanor and being strong for those that need us to be strong.
The story for me is about being a strong person of faith. Sometimes we do it for ourselves and sometimes we do it for those we love. But let me close with this thought – sometimes conflict in our lives can be diverted best by what we don’t say than what we do say.
Do you remember the lyrics to that old song, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” I remember reading an article some time ago about an 85 year old gentleman in the Atlanta area that just received his masters degree from Kennesaw State University. I was so inspired by this gentleman and his love for his wife. His degree was in English and it all seemed to begin from love letters he was writing for his wife. But then I started reading some of the responses people wrote and one of them was a gentleman that asked why was he getting praised for something he should have done 50 years ago. Eh – some people are just like that – they would rather tear down than build up. As I was thinking about this I started laughing and thought to myself, “The world went to pot when people started asking why the Howell’s took all those clothes and money and why Ginger had all those clothes for just a 3 hour tour. We never thought those things when we were kids. It also never seemed necessary for us to question why The Brady’s lived in a house with no toilet and cut a lawn of astroturf. It just was.
Then came a generation of people that wanted to ask why. Don’t get me wrong, some why’s are important – like why do people of color have to drink from separate water fountains and sit on other parts of the bus? Why can’t women vote? But some why’s are just mean. I don’t know – maybe we had a generation that wasn’t taught, “if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.”
I hope you have a great Christmas season. I don’t know why people get so upset by the phrase Merry Xmas when the X symbol dates back to early biblical times when X was a symbol for Christ. I don’t know why people care that there is a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn or a Menorah on the counter at a local community center. I don’t know why it bothers people so much to have to look at those things.
Here’s a suggestion – lets save the why’s for important stuff like the lack of toilets in the Brady household. You might find yourselves much happier if you worry less about the opinons of others and more on how you can reach out and love.
What the world doesn’t need is more people who ask why only to show their own superiority.
So, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”