Today is a special day, my sister Rachel would have been 28 years old. I’ve been meaning to finish this but I know this is perfect timing because I started writing what I’ve learned each year (on her bday) since the accident. This is the first time I’m going to share it with you though so here we go….
What does that word mean to you and what is your definition of it? It’s a powerful word that I have been hearing over and over especially the past few years. Many look at my family and I’s situation as a terrible thing and that we are the ones hurting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s something nobody should go through and an unbearable pain but I also gained something just as I lost something – perspective.
A few years before Rachel passed away, I had a friend that lost their best friend unexpectedly in a tragic accident. I was upset and confused on how a young, good looking and awesome guy could leave this earth with so many years left to live. My friend quickly picked up and moved away for a few months to Alaska to get away. I never truly understood it and part of me thought what is he running away from? What it boiled down to is that I couldn’t assume anything because I was not in his shoes. Fast forward to July 2012 and I knew exactly why he left. You see, what I have learned is that everyone grieves differently and you cannot judge them for it, even your own family. My dad and I are exactly alike but even we grieve differently.
I was recently in a lawyers office and the lady in the office lost a family member. When I asked how she was doing, she replied with “I’m hanging in there.” I told her the same thing I just told you and said to her, “I understand what you’re going through and let me tell you why.” She said, “oh that situation is worse than mine.” And I replied back to her, “No, a death is a death.” Sure someone may look at someone else and think they have it worse than this person but in all truth every situation can hurt, especially when we all deal with it completely differently. I also start to see where God puts me in situations where I get the chance to talk to someone that I can relate with about what I’ve been through. At first it was strange but now it’s comforting (laughing as I’m at a lawyers office but my main reason to be there was talk to her). Perspective.
I’ve noticed some people shy away from talking to you about the situation all together because it may actually make them uncomfortable and that is totally okay. I don’t know that I would have approached someone or asked if I was on the other side either but what I can honestly tell you now – ask them. Don’t be afraid. Sure, someone might tear up but there is nothing like that elephant in the room when you know the person knows the situation and you avoid it all together. And sometimes you may not know what to say and that’s okay too, just hug them. Some words of advice not to say that have been said to me recently – “Oh you aren’t over that yet?, “You use your situation as a weapon with others (yes, seriously),” and mom got this one, “So you have 2 daughters correct? (when she knew the whole situation and said it in front of a group of women).” We all can say things without thinking it through but never judge someone who has been through something you don’t have a clue about until you have been in their shoes. They actually may be the first person you need to talk to when your life gets turned upside down. One person that many spoke about as always cutting out on the group stuff and get togethers, I learned later is was to help with her mom as much as she can that had a stroke a few years ago. She was the first person to sit beside me right after everything happened. Perspective.
I have so many stories I could share that are total God things but one that I want to share with you is at Rachel’s funeral. There was a girl that came up to us in the line. I had never seen her before and she had to be in her mid 20’s but she hugged me as if I had known her for years. She said to me, “I didn’t know your sister but for 10 minutes in the waiting room of where she worked. I was having a terrible day and what she said to me changed my life. I heard what happened and I had to come here to tell you that because I will be forever grateful to her for taking just 10 minutes for a stranger.” She never told me what she said and I often wonder what Rach said but then again I could totally guess what that kid said. All I know is that it she changed a life in just 10 minutes. Perspective.
Right before the accident we were doing well with our business – Business Beware. We had a TV/Radio show and working with a production company on a new show concept that would have been amazing. As excited as I was and as hard as I was hustling with it, I was burned out too. I had this moment where I could hear that still small voice saying, “It’s not time right now.” And of course I fought it thinking well of course it’s time, clearly I would know from all the hard work I have put in with this thing. Little did I know that 2 weeks later our family was about to lose a part of it. I understand now why I heard that voice telling me it’s not time. It took a 2 years before I could even think about that business again. At one point I was ready but dad wash’t and vice versa. People would write to me about opportunities with it but I just couldn’t get motivated but also knew it wash’ the right time yet still. We received an email from our former producers and they wanted to speak to us about the TV show and see where we were at with it all. Dad and I both agreed to talk to them. When we left dinner I knew it was time and there was that still small voice again. Just 2 weeks later we had a conference call and they offered us a radio/TV spot with a team under us instead of me doing all of the legwork like I use to do. Sometimes our timing is not the right timing, God is always on time. Perspective.
This is a great video interview of Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper. Relates to what I am talking about and her perspective.
Life isn’t easy, especially these days when everyone is trying to fit in or have the best house etc. I’ve never been one to have the fancy stuff because it’s just not me but after everything that happened it becomes more clear that these things we think matter don’t go with us that day we enter Heaven. Sure money helps in this life but some of the best people I’ve ever known didn’t have hardly anything but a roof over their head and a full heart. Some may think I come down on those that were blessed with extra things but it’s not that at all. If that’s what makes you happy great, but let me ask you something – when your house burns down what will you grab running out of that house? If there comes a day that you lose everything and you are on the street, can you deal with that? Never say it can’t happen because it can. Do you think I thought I would lose my sister at the age of 25? Heck no. Focus on others, give of your time, change someones life, smile at people, hug them, buy their coffee or just sit with them. My grandfather told me as I was young that “a hearse doesn’t have a luggage rack.” Perspective.
You may have not experienced a death yet and I hope you honestly never do. It may be that you have close friends that turned their back on you out of the blue. It may not hurt that they did but the fact they didn’t have the decency to come to you to get your side of the story when all you have ever been is a friend to them. It may be your finances aren’t good and you lost your job. Your marriage is falling apart and you’re constantly putting a smile on your face for those around you pretending everything is fine. You may be at odds with siblings or someone left you at the alter. Whatever it may be, let the anger go. The anger can consume you if you let it. The angrier you stay, the less perspective you gain from the situation. Each battle we face is a test that prepares us for the next one. How are you going to handle it while others are watching you? Yes, people are watching you in every situation you’re in whether you realize it or not. Here’s what I do know – you can’t please everyone and you can’t help those that don’t want to be helped. Lord knows we all mess up because we are human but when a battle is standing in front of you, stand strong and fight for the weak ones just as God said to do.
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on You
(King & Country)
Am I trying to make you feel bad or call you out? Nope, I’m human just like you and make mistakes all the time but just sharing what I have learned through what I have been through. Always remember, you never know what someone is going through until you’re in their shoes so don’t judge them based on your own thoughts. Don’t let fear or anger consume you because life is too short. And above all, do things for others even if they don’t understand why someone could be so nice that to them you have a motive behind it. Disregard it, keep loving them. And if they forget, remind them what grace is and where it comes from because grace always wins in the end.
Fear keeps us from experiencing all that God has for us. When we fear something, we give it too much power over us. But when we muster enough courage to walk through that fear, we often look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.
Happy Birthday Rach.