I have been thinking on this one thought a lot lately...how we can be so close to something we can miss what is going on. When you look in a mirror, depending on what you are looking at is what you see or focus on. If you are looking for an over all view you stand back a bit so you can see more of the image you are checking out. If it is a spot on you face you want to check out you get closer and focus on the spot you want to see. I think this is the meaning of the old phrase, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” In the middle of the woods you just see the trees nearby...from a hill over looking the woods you can see the depth and width of the forest.
A leader has to be able to do both I suspect...to look closely at what is going around you, what is near you. Then at times you need to step back and look at everything from a distance...get the bigger picture so to speak. The hard part I think is the timing of it all...some micromanage to such point other leaders around them feel stifled. Then you can be too hands off also...I think I tend to default here, to back off too much.
Anyway this whole thought process began as I watched my parents pass away. The story goes like this, I know many of you already know but here goes. My mom and dad were married for sixty-three years...sixty three years. Some marriages hardly make sixty-three days and others seem like they have had sixty-three different spouses. This was one man to one woman...for sixty-three years. The last few years have been very difficult for my dad...we almost lost mom three or four years ago but she recovered...somewhat. She remained bed ridden for the last few years and dad was her care giver. My sisters offered to help or encouraged him to get help but he would say, “We took vows over 60 years ago and we meant them.” So for better for worse...in sickness and in health...‘til death do us part...it was a serious vow they made.
Dad and I had our moments for sure. He taught me to love the game of baseball but his methods were kind of harsh at times. His temper seemed to flare at really weird times or at least unsuspecting times. I can still remember some name calling and him making fun of my weight. This is what I mean by being too close to the story to see what all was going on around me...maybe the bigger story...well the better story for sure. I think as I grew older and I sought healing I focused on the negative a lot. Old wounds were close to the surface. I remember one time being on vacation with friends and Stacy and Ian were with us. We were riding bikes together and I had Ian on the back of mine...and he was not pedaling! We crossed this bridge which was kind of narrow and had a sharp turn as we approached the street. As we got to the top I stopped not knowing there was another couple coming up behind us. They got a little angry and were muttering...loudly as they passed by. Then they said something about us being stupid...stupid! A trigger. Not a good word. I came unglued and if I could have gotten free from our crowd I am not sure what would have done. Being called stupid as a kid leaves a mark...a deep one.
So I think I had these trees in my face...and I could not see the forest around me...the story I grew up in. I never suspected at all I was surrounded by a love story...oh sure they were married a long time but a real love story? My dad passed on a Saturday morning in a care facility as my sister was coming to be with him. Really he went quickly...we thought we had some more time but we did not. He knew he was going and I really think he resigned himself and went. My mom was in the same facility but in another room and she did not know he was gone, although looking back now I think she knew way before we did he was pretty sick. So she was kind of preparing to go too...we did not recognize this either. On Monday, dad’s 89th birthday, my sister told mom he was gone...she repeated what Diane said and then did not say much more. The next day we got word mom was slipping away now...really! Again we thought we had more time...we needed more time. At dad’s viewing we got a call...mom had passed. My Aunt Barb was with her, her oldest friend, as she went home. The nurse said she would sing “Home on the Range” and “Jesus Loves Me” and then say, “I’m coming dad, I’m coming.” Then laid her head in my aunts hands and went...to dad...to Jesus. Twenty-four hours after finding out dad was gone...she went...to join him.
Dad had fought to keep her alive when she got sick and as she recovered...he would not let her go. I really think he kept her here...and when he left it was OK for her to go too. Rarely apart for 63 years they would not stay apart either...‘til death do us part. Mom he was only gone twenty-four hours! Couldn’t you have given is at least a week to get through dad’s funeral? What kind of story is this? Did I really miss for most of my sixty-two years what really was right in front of me? I mean everyone loved mom...what was said at her funeral was she had this amazing gift of making everyone feel like they here her favorite or her best friend. Dad was little more prickly...well a lot more really. On the other hand we all knew if we needed anything he would drop what he was doing to give you a hand. I cannot tell you how many times I would be working on a car of mine and he would wander over and give me a hand. And they go down in the grandparents Hall of Fame...they baby sat for quite a few kids and all of them adopted them as grandparents also.
I think as one in the middle of the story I missed the essentials of the story...I could not see the forest for the trees. I think of the disciples as they hung out with Jesus...they all came with their ideas of what He should be about and what He should do. They had a different view of the end of the story than He did. He tried to tell them...but they could not see...they could not see the love story unfolding right in front of them. We can see it now...from a distance...from a different vantage point. I can now see my mom and dad’s story, love story, better and more clearly. It is still confounding and amazing...but becoming more clearly every day. “I’m coming dad, I’m coming.” Love kept them together, love kept her alive, love let her go home...to be with dad...and Jesus.
In this world of smart phones and tablets all making little noises letting you know you have a text or an email, where it is hard to get away or to back up to see more clearly what is going around you I hope we will all slow down and look around us. Is there a Frank and Evelyn type love story nearby that you might be missing? Are our bruises and pains from life so large we cannot see the glories of heaven all around us? Are we so busy looking for the next big thing the best thing is being overlooked?
I have prayed for years to see what God sees...I think there is a big lesson for me here...maybe I am not even looking in the same direction as He is. Maybe...I need to back up and get a better view...maybe...how about you?