Yesterday at lunch, M asked, “Dad, when are you going to die?”
We were out with the team that is here from Pennsylvania and a couple of them were at our table. They seemed as uncomfortable as I was. I said, “I don’t have any plans. When would you like me to die?”
Then comes the stressful few moments where you wait and hope she doesn’t say, “straight-away.” Or perhaps worse, “it doesn’t really matter.”
Thankfully she responded, “never,” and went back to eating her lunch.
Later, at dinner, Elizabeth and I learned that a person we have not had contact with in decades passed away. Although I have never actually met this person, it was someone who caused a great deal of pain and grief in our family. For example, a number of people Elizabeth knew growing up didn’t come to our wedding because this guy decided that she shouldn’t marry me…because it wasn’t God’s will…not that we’d asked (did I mention that I’d never met this person?). And since Liz was marrying me anyway, no one from his church should attend…and they didn’t.
We were able to forgive, and move on…and thankfully since the person wasn’t part of our lives at that point, it was easy to keep it that way.
One of my favourite Saturday Night Live writers from back in the day, was Jack Handey. He was great at writing these short, but hilarious bits. Such as:
I hope that after I die, people will say of me: “That guy sure owed me a lot of money.”
It is interesting what happens when someone you rarely think of pops back up on your radar. As I’ve been thinking about this person over the past day, what keeps coming to my mind is this passage from 2 Timothy 3:
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.
I hope that after I die, people will say…
I hope that when people think of me, what pops into their head is…
I hope that if people are asked, “when do you want me to die,” the response is…
Over the past few days we’ve talked with the team from Pennsylvania and shared some of the religious history of Ireland…and the impact those actions by the church and some of its leaders have had in so many deciding they are done with God..
We’ve all hurt people…some of us may have hurt others deeply and never realized the extent of the pain we caused. We can’t change that, but if we are always open to apologising, and asking forgiveness, we can impact the answers to those questions (and the type of person we’re becoming).
I believe especially for those who have any leadership role or influence in the church…we need to take care with how we exercise the influence we have. Are we going to use it in a way that blesses people…that helps people experience God’s love?
Or are we more concerned with maintaining influence and control…ensuring people do what we say so that our position is secure? It’s sad that some are able to hurt so many…and God gets blamed, and people lose out on the life he has for him.
So, is what you hope those closest to you will say?
Also published on Medium.