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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Yeah, Though I Walk - Making Meaning - Impact

As we remember our loved ones and reflect on our memories, on the stories that keep their memory alive, we can see the ways that their life has left a lasting impression on ours. Maybe it is lessons learned. Maybe it is their influence on how we think or live. Maybe it’s the way they saw life and how they helped us to see it. Making meaning includes taking note of the ways in which their life made an indelible mark on ours.

Two stories that I did not share in this series are also two people who left a mark on my life that cannot be erased.
My dad died about a mile from the house in which he was born. In between he made his home within that one mile all of his life. He traveled from time to time, but he always came home to stay in the fertile green river valley. When I was young, I did not understand or appreciate my dad. As I matured I came to understand him more and as I understood him I appreciated him immensely.

I came to understand that he loved his family with a deep, enduring love – an unconditional love. I came to know in my heart of hearts that even if I did things he didn’t like or didn’t approve of, he would still love me. I knew that he would always love me.  I knew that he would always love each of his children and my mom. His deep love, his ability to “MacGyver” things, his dependability gave me a sense of security, of things being right with the world.

Now, in the years since he stepped through Heaven's portal, I have come to see that my view of men, of what makes a man masculine and a good man has been shaped by the kind of man he was. I find I notice first men who bear a physical resemblance to him - tall, broad-shouldered, muscular. However, more important are the things that made him who he was: hard-working, dependable, filled with deep faith, intelligent, stable, quietly witty, a dry sense of humor, uncomplaining. His abilities also come into play: his ability to fix almost anything, to build, to create. He was a man who could both laugh and cry, who was far from perfect, but big enough to say he was sorry when he messed up. He loved his wife faithfully, cared for her, provided for her, lived with her, laughed with her, and was her lover for over 65 years. Men, good men, masculine men come in many shapes and sizes with unique and individual personalities and this is good. Still, I am discovering that I am most drawn to those men who are in some ways a lot like "dear old dad." This speaks strongly to the love, respect, and appreciation I have for the man who was my dad. 

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The other story is of a kid, a young man in his early twenties who entered my life wearing a blue baseball jacket and blue baseball cap. My life was never the same after I met him. We are parted now, sadly, for over the course of the 20 years I knew him, I had come to love his family as if they were blood. Our lives had been woven together through a myriad of experiences – births, deaths, trips, celebrations, defeats, and the day-to-day little things that come with sharing life. All of that has ended now, but still he left a mark on my life that will never go away.

He entered my life after a season where my self-image and my faith had taken a major beating, a season where I came close to walking away from my church and seriously questioned God. He came as a 21 year old "kid" to lead the youth ministry in a small country church. It took awhile for us to trust each other and for a friendship to grow, but eventually it did. However, he did not come to that church to stay and after 9 short months he graduated college and left us to marry his fiancée and to live near her college so she could finish her senior year.

The night of his farewell party he gave me a gift. In a place where I had felt used, abused, and discounted, he treated me with love, grace, dignity, and respect. His simple act of acknowledging my humanity and validating it, was a gift no one had given me for a long time. Eventually, I came to serve in another church where he also served and here I met his family and grew to love them. In this church and in the sheltering love of this family, I learned about love, experienced affirmation, and also learned about grace.  Because of his openness to letting God minister through him, I experienced healing at a soul level. Old hurts and wounds were brought to the surface. Forgiveness, love, and grace were applied and I healed and grew and learned things about myself and about God and life with God I never imagined I would. 

I am thankful for these two and for each of the people in the stories in this series. Each one has left a footprint on my life, each one had an impact.

As you reflect on loved ones now gone, I’d love to hear how they have impacted you.
What lessons did they teach you?
How did they influence your perspective?

What one thing about them will you always remember? 


  1. beautiful contemplations of these 2 men who've impacted you at a deep level, Dar. you are blessed ...

    1. Yes . . . I have truly been blessed. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.