I came across the following post not long ago, and it continues to connect with me on so many different levels. Manly because my dad is a cancer survior, but also because of the sincere way this is presented. Feel free to contect via the link above, or read below. Either way it is worth the read.
I Don’t Have Too Many Wasted Conversations
“I don’t have many wasted conversations! I have an urgency on my life.” I wish these were my words but they aren’t. My friend Blake Bergstrom said this to me as we were sitting in his glorious “man cave” behind his house, which is settled on 4 acres in Pegram, TN. Many years ago he had a near death experience that changed his perspective on life forever. ”Every conversation matters, every time is appointed,” he went on to say.
I was struck by his sincerity and his sense of purpose. I was also convicted by my own selfishness, and the lack of desire I have to know and invest in people deeper. Sometimes I “just don’t have time,” but really I just don’t care. If it makes me look good, or if it fits my agenda, or if “I’m just in the mood” then I’ll do it. That’s not to say I’m not sincere, but I like to dig only so deep.
My wife, Angie, is a lot like Blake. Five minutes with her and you will be sharing your whole life story. I’m not kidding! Once we were with a couple and the husband started sharing things his wife had never heard after years of marriage. Angie loves people that much. She is so sincere and so giving. Because of it people trust her, and let her into very private matters in their lives.
She’s always been that way, but when we found out we were going to lose Audrey, Angie has had a stronger sense of urgency. She has said many times, “I don’t have many wasted conversations, I don’t talk about the weather anymore with anyone.”
If there is anyone who has impacted me and made me come out of my shell with people it is Angie. She has taught me how to love deeper, how to see the beauty in fractured lives, and how to get my hands dirty and walk with people!
It’s funny, I can sing in front of 20,000 people (okay, mostly 1,000 – 3,000 people every night, but 20,000 did happen one time) and be totally fine; however, you put me with the same person or 10 people over and over again and I’ll become a recluse. Suddenly, I have fish to wrap and I’ve never fished in my life!
I believe everyone needs “alone time” as I tell my three girls when daddy needs a break, but when you isolate yourself completely you can become so lonely and afraid.
How many moments have I lost because I didn’t say “hi” to someone and lead into something deeper? How much more enriched would my life be if I had just stayed a little longer in the conversation, and once we walked past the awkwardness, found out who they really were? How much more would my life be shaped for the better had I just cared enough to really listen?
About two weeks ago I had the opportunity to choose between wasted time or seeing the face of God in a special person.
Angie received an email saying that a woman we’ll call “J” was terminally ill with cancer, and wanted to meet me and have me sing for her before she went home.
What an honor and priviledge. You talk about feeling inadequate. Who am I that this woman would want to meet me? What would I say? What would I do? What if I messed up, or said something wrong, or hurt her feelings?
I decided that day was not going to be wasted. J lives about an hour from my house. We met at her home church along with some very special friends and her beautiful 6yr old daughter “AG.”
Here is what I learned from digging deeper and spending time with this wonderful lady.
She’s 31 years old. She miscarried at 18 weeks this past October. Looking at her you wouldn’t know anything was wrong. J was having a “good” day the day we met. However, she has Cervical cancer. Because she chose not to abort her baby, and not to receive radiation while pregnant, the cancer spread, sped on by the hormones in her body. She has cancer in her liver, lungs, and her brain.
J is a fighter! She has already outlived her doctors predictions by months!
She has incredible friends. She has been living with “S” and “D”since July. S is a breast cancer survivor. She cares for J and stays with her every moment of every day. They laugh, get their hair done, and go to movies; however, no previews. J jokes that, “I’m never gonna see the movie so why see the preview.” I think that’s great that she can laugh at that. Some of you may not find that funny, but I can relate. When we lost our daughter Audrey there were times we would just laugh. The timing felt “inappropriate,” but we had to to keep our sanity. You have to be able to find humor in the unbearable things in life, or you won’t be able to deal with them.
I met the two beautiful people, “JW” and “DW,” who have adopted AG! They will raise this little girl! What brave selfless people. The adoption process was a miracle! It only took two weeks! It just so “happened” that AG’s pediatrician is married to the judge who approved the adoption!
We had a great time together. I spent about 3 hours with J and her “family” laughing and sharing stories. We also did a little singing. Actually, I did most of the singing and they graciously listened to about 15 songs. J specifically requested Hiding Place, Wayfaring Stranger, You Raise Me Up, and Unredeemed. Unredeemed is on our new upcoming CD and Amy sings the lead on it. Let’s just say I gave Unredeemed my best shot!
It was humbling to see someone facing death so bravely and with such dignity. What must she feel knowing she is not going to experience her daughter growing up. It was heart breaking after we finished. I was about to leave and little AG just held onto her mommy crying. J just held onto her little girl crying with her knowing what is going to happen. There are no words of comfort, there was nothing to say. When we lost Audrey some of the most helpful people were ones who said nothing at all. They were just with us, carrying our burden silently!
It was incredible to be able to spend time with J, to pray with her, and to know her and her friends more deeply. I am a better man for meeting her. I have more empathy. I feel more deeply. I have more sorrow. I have more peace. I feel more unsettled. I have more unanswered questions. I have more trust in God. My life is more enriched because I’ve met this woman.
Please pray for J, AG, S, D, JW, and DW.
The doctors have given J several months at the most. When we last talked she was in Florida for what may be her last beach vacation with her daughter. Pray for AG’s soul. That God will draw her close to Him. That she won’t fall away, but will know Him more deeply because of her suffering.
J, thank you for letting me share your story. S, thank you for contacting Angie and me.
We never know who we might meet, or what they might be going through. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. The question is, are we willing to get out of our comfort zone?
Be purposeful with someone today. Don’t talk about the weather. Don’t have a wasted conversation.
Ecc. 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up.