“He walked gently…even when he was young boy. He was just…………………… so special...”
Her voice somehow lost in the air. And then she got choked up. I only heard the breeze of the light wind around us. She had to turn her face away from mine. I stared at her’s with compassionate intention.
She was talking about my dad.
Before Texas, there was Florida.
I thought Texas was going to be a defining trip for me, but instead it was Florida.
We had another memorial service for my dad in Florida last month. A service for all his Florida family, friends, and classmates to attend—yes, his classmates.
My dad had stayed friends with most of his childhood friends from elementary school, even after his family had picked up and moved to Southern California before his senior year of high school. My dad would remain connected.
The way in which my dad’s old classmates and friends would talk about him, was as if he was a daily force of kindness and encouragement to them— in ways that were just so powerful and personal, even after his departure from Florida.
Imagine, more than 50 years after leaving elementary and high school, and your classmates weeping because of your loss. What an impression to leave on people’s hearts.
I wasn’t prepared to hear how loved my dad was, even thousands of miles away from my home.
But it was exactly what my heart needed.
When she spoke about my dad, it finally clicked for my heart. The specific way in which God had shed His love over my entire life thus far: “Gentleness”
It was His way of guiding me and loving me and protecting me.
“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, ” – Exodus 34:6
“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” - Romans 2:4
God knew what my wild heart would be like growing up. And trust me, I was bold and outspoken even then.
But my wild heart was tempered with a kind of gentleness that can only be authentically lived with, wrapping you up like a warm blanket on Christmas morning. Even in the midst of my resistance…
My dad was a walking interpretation of gentleness.
Doesn’t mean he never got angry, and it sure doesn’t mean he was perfect.
But he was by far the most consistent and gentle man I’ve ever known in my entire life.
And when she said those words, amid the sturdy trees blowing in the wind, I realized for the first time in my life, that I had a gaping hole -- a gaping hole of gentleness (especially masculine gentleness) being active and embracing my life.
Who would randomly call me during the week to say that they loved me? Or to simply “hear my voice”.
Who would call me a “Jive Turkey” and “My Baby” in the same sentence?
Who would whisper to me, “Do you need any gas money?”
Or give this perpetual single girl her Valentine’s day card with a gift inside?
Who would I talk to about NASA, space, and future technologies because he was a man that actually worked alongside scientists in his earlier years.
Who would now be my gentle champion in the flesh?
Even as I type this, I have actual snot bubbles coming out of my nose.
But I need you to see how beautiful this all is.
Number one. I’d rather feel than be numb.
And number two. It’s in the struggle and in the pain that the real growth occurs, and I refuse to avoid this part.
I left Florida feeling full and vulnerable.
I had spent a full weekend with 2 widows (one being my mother) and a fiery female minister. And it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in 2016.
I learned. I’m learning. And I’m listening.
These women had such a sense of joy, even in the midst of grieving. A sense of unquenchable life, even in the midst of death. Point blank: Jesus.
All these women have an active relationship with God. Not in the, I just go to church occasionally type of way, but in the, “I talk to Him daily” type of way. (Gimme dat life!)
I used to tell my youth group, “Just because you walk into a garage, doesn’t make you a car. And just because you go to church, doesn’t make you a Christian.”
The truth is, being a Christian is an active, daily relationship with God. Where He not only becomes your best friend and heavenly Father, but Lord. Yeah, I never used to like that bit either, because that basically meant I was giving Him ultimate say-so in my life.
But I would later find out, that my life was far richer and better when He was Lord over my life, rather than myself …with my limited view of things.
But yo. being a Christian does not, let me repeat, does not mean your life will be all cupcakes. In fact, you’ll have to learn to fight, to be brave, to be courageous, to surrender, to trust, and of course to love like never before. But you’ll have a deep-seated peace that no one and nothing can take away from you.
I’ll let you in on my secret:
2 Things that have defined my relationship with God: 1. The Bible 2. God's Presence.
If you ever have a problem finding true North (because believe, there will be a lot of things trying to present themselves as the pathway throughout your life…), start reading the book of John in the Bible. And ask God to give you eyes to see and ears to truly hear what He want’s to speak to you in that particular season of your life.
And secondly, start playing some worship music in your car occasionally. Talk about experiencing the presence of God! I could give you a TON of music recommendations across different genres (gospel, soft rockish, pop, etc.), but today, I’ll simply start with what I’ve listened to this past summer, the album: “Champion” by Bryan + Katie Torwalt.
Listen to the words—I mean, really listen to the words. Let them hit your heart. Let them become your prayers. And then if you’re really crazy, start singing along…to God.
And start doing it more and more and more and more.
Because I have a feeling, that you and I won’t make it in the days ahead, with all of life’s unforeseen challenges and surprises without knowing whole heartedly that God is with us, encouraging us, believing in us, and dreaming with us. (Plus, we tend to forget quite a bit regarding the faithfulness of God in our lives, if we aren’t engaged daily).
You must know,
there’s more for you.
There’s more for me.
Especially in God.
You and I will never “arrive” or finish exploring and experiencing the richness of God while we are on earth. In fact, we are just scratching the surface.
Our relationship with God can go as deep as we want it to go…
Wow. What a tangent.
So yeah, Florida…
It wrecked my heart in the best way.
I got to sit in a hotel room and watch Hallmark movies with my mom, eat like a true Southerner, visit the church that is attached to my father’s legacy, and hear a woman talk about my dad walking gently.
It put quite the perspective on the crushes that I had throughout 2016.
Oh, you thought I wasn’t going to share my business? Who do you think I am?
I had several crushes this year. None of which have panned out---or that would have been the first thing I would have SCREAMED to you over the internets. I AM DATING SOMEONE!!!! (I’m just practicing writing that, because why not...)
Instead, I have a greater collection of beautiful Christian male friends. Because I need more hot Christian male friends like I need bad gas after eating macaroni and cheese.
But alas, that has become my lot in life. Le struggle.
But 2017, I’m looking at you:
And I don’t feel at all bad for my single hot Christian male friends, because ya’ll know you could have married me or one of my other beautiful single friends like yesterday. But instead, we’ve all agreed on friendship, and it’s probably better this way, but it’s almost Christmas, and it’s “cuffing season” – so I’m feeling feisty and throwing things out in the atmosphere.
P.S. And to my hot Christian male friends new and old, can you at least introduce me to your other single friends if you’re not trying to date me? I mean, don’t be selfish.
And now with this present void of gentleness in my life, I’m trying to not act desperate (failinggg) and thirsty as the kids would say.
I’ve done quite a bit of traveling this year, and met many a kind soul. One man in particular caught my eye briefly, and it didn't hurt that he had an accent. He let his intentions toward me become known after a few days. And yes, he was a God-fearing man. He even threw a nice romantic gesture in my direction.
My heart was vulnerable and open.
I fly back home, only to discover via Facebook that he had/has a girlfriend.
Wow. So is this how grown-ups date in church life? You guys, I just can’t.
Needless to say I was over it and the level of dishonesty.
And the lack of true gentleness in the matter.
So here I am, back to square one.
Yes, I have another crush. #hejustnotthatintome
And alas, we will become the best of buds. Because I’m fun, and I’m a good bud. And because I’ve had a great deal of practice at this whole thing…
And yes, Texas was all kinds of beauty and awesome and pain.
Two Engagements happened around me, while I was in Texas like one *right next to me. See the clip: HERE.
I mean, this is just becoming comical at this point.
And of course I’m gonna tell you ALL about it…in my next blog post, because this blog post has already gone too deep too fast… as per usual.
But I will say this about Texas.
I met kindred hearts.
I met gentle souls.
And I most definitely cried.
“Here we go again making villains, out of lovers, lovers
Tearing down blue skies
Turning cloud nine into thunder, thunder
So complicated trying to love you with ease
Oh, we're dodging arrows that we think we see
Here we go again making villains out of lovers, lovers, lovers
Ooo, out of each other
Oh babe, we'll find a way
I want to love you everyday
I don't want to throw our love away
I don't want to fight our love away
I don't want to fight this love away
Don't you wanna be my lover?”