I got some really bad news today. News that an old co-worker, one who I would call a friend, at least for a season, killed himself recently. He had gone through a difficult life change and apparently grew depressed and ended his life.

Selah.

It hit me. Funny how news that like causes us to look inward – to regret – to think of all the things we would’ve been willing to do for the person had we known. But people in desperate times don’t usually let us know how desperate they are.

Many times, I don’t think they even know themselves.

I’ve always been very optimistic overall. Always felt that storms that come will pass and that I’ll be better for having endured it. I’ve always felt, particularly the older I get, that people who are rude or unfriendly to me are doing it more because of what’s going on with them than anything to do with me, so I try not to internalize stupid little things that people say or do (or don’t say or do).

Yesterday after a company meeting, one of my coworkers tells me that the speaker came up to him and said “you gave me a dirty look after my talk”. He was incredulous. If anything, he was starting blankly (as most of us were) after the speaker reviewed a half hour of financial data (one guy actually snored and had to be nudged). Perhaps he was stifling a fart and had that strained, pained look on his face (I know that one). But the younger man who gave the talk took it as “a dirty look”.

I give him credit for speaking up about it, but its so interesting how an action (or non-action…the guy was just sitting there) that had absolutely nothing to do with the speaker could be taken so badly.

Jesus warned us that offenses would come. He told us that there would be trials and troubles. He never promised a trouble free, stress-free life. He just promised us that’s He’d be there, that God loves us and that we should love one another as He loves us.

It’s pretty simple and I suck at it. Most of us do.

For all the little offenses I have given to any of you reading this, most if not all of them unintentional, I apologize to you. For not having a kind word when you needed one. For not being available physically or emotionally. For not having the capacity to show you that I care and that I love you – I am sorry.

We all, I believe, at least most of us, the very best for those around us. We all intend the best for our families, for our spouses, for our loved ones. Even for our acquaintences. Yet most of it dies in the intention process. Most of it never quite surfaces the way it needs to, because of time pressure, because of stresses, because our minds are elsewhere.

That’s why people cling so tightly to the little compliments they receive or a thank you or just a little bit of simple understanding. Being kind to one another makes such a difference and I’m the worst at it with people who are closest to me and around all the time.

Oh, to really reflect the love that God has for those around us the way He’d have me to. To really risk exposure and put myself out there. To really give myself away. Its something that we all want to do but fear. John tells us that perfect love casts out fear. Paul tells us that it is patient, kind, etc. We all have the capacity for it, because God gave us that capacity, but only through dependence on Him can we really show it. Only through faith can we love perfectly. Only by risking ourselves in one way or another does it become real.

I wish I had given my old friend Kevin an unexpected call or email or something. I wish I had reached out at a critical time. I didn’t know. I didn’t sense his pain over time and distance and years separated. My hope for him is that he reached out to You as I believe he did years ago after one of our chats. My hope is that he is in a better place. My hope is that those who knew him don’t think poorly of him because of what happened. He believed in hard work, was a great employee and always was a pretty upbeat guy. Troubles seemed to roll off of him most of the time. I miss him now even if I didn’t really miss him when he was here.

Why?

May God perfect in me the capacity to show His love. He is the source of it. He really is. Not some evolutionary cellular level electrical impulse, but a living God. He cares enough to overlook our bad decisions. Even permanent bad decisions. Thank God.

To Kevin. You were loved, even if from a distance. May I someday have the chance, and the courage, to tell you that on the other side. May that courage be more present in me today.

Jeff

Jeff McKinney
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