“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you know how you should respond to each one.” (Col. 4:6)
Lithogenic. That’s the fancy, smart guy word my favorite doc, Dave Hollensbe, uses to describe me. Try not to be too jealous. I’m pretty sure it just means I am good at manufacturing kidney stones. He’s a talented guy, and it’s not that he’s intending to be impertinent or ill-mannered by using words I’ve never heard, it’s more like he just really enjoys his own gift of intellectual superiority. He admits as much with a smile in his eyes, and it’s pretty darn entertaining. There’s nothing dull about this guy. He’s brainy, astute, and quick-witted. He’s also faith-filled and incredibly compassionate in the most smart-alecky way possible. I was on the phone with him recently for my “virtual” appointment. He wanted to make sure I had the phone number for his assistant if I needed to call his office so he said, “Just write it down again, Shelly. It’s 317-867-5309.” I said “Thanks.” Then, he started laughing and I realized he was mocking me. 867-5309. I mean I was a teenager in the 80s? I should have caught that. Funny guy. It did make me giggle, and I needed the smile that morning. He never fails to bring a grin to my day when I speak to him. The guy is a big-hearted scoop of awesome sauce in a world desperately in need of a heaping ladle full.
I want to speak plainly to you folks. I’m sharing this today because I was asked to do so by two amazing women who for the first time in their lives have had serious mental health struggles. They are far from alone. A mental health counselor friend tells me they’ve never been so busy. My point is, not just a few of you seem discouraged. I’m a dangerously untrained mental health “expert” (in my own mind) and you need to know that the longer you speak to me, the more I am diagnosing you. Ha? I’m kidding about the diagnosing, but I am a pretty good listener, and a heap of people have given me an opportunity in 2020. I’m grateful for this, as I love people and when the Lord gives me a chance to be His ears, it makes me feel the terrific privilege of getting to do something small but important for Him in my day. The world is upside down and it’s full of suffering and unbelief. In the midst of this, we have lives to live this day, you and I. What we do with this precious gift of time is our choice. I can’t counsel anyone, but I can care, listen, and remind folks they are loved. So can you.
I’ll be brutally honest. One of my big character flaws is that while I am a pretty capable and attentive listener, sometimes I don’t do a lot of thinking before I speak. I’m just as shocked as the person next to me by what comes out of my mouth sometimes. I say stupid things sometimes and laugh when I shouldn’t. I’ve got to do all that a bit better, pausing to respond with grace when others choose differently. We really can help darkened hearts, including our own, come alive with our words and our concern. Sometimes we speak the wrong ones. I’m going to argue though, that even though we might screw it up, trying anyway is what God expects. I promise you this. Even when I foul things up, I will always be TRYING to love you with a full heart. That effort and God’s grace is enough.
Here’s the critical part, and we MUST be completely honest with ourselves, because we are going to encounter difficult people. If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that!! Difficult folks are often just lost, lonely souls that need a spark of joy. We MUST care for them and pray for them. In your interaction with another, did you act with love in your heart? Was your intention pure and completely free of selfishness? We can’t be afraid to speak truth, in love, in an effort to protect ourselves or what another might think of us. That one is extra hard for yours truly, but I’m learning and improving.
My friend, the doc, is not afraid to speak truth in love. He’s also not afraid to be a total Jesus-loving smart ass. This combination is rare and glorious. His cross has been a particularly heavy one the last couple years, but he is a generous, compassion-filled light all the same. Smiles are contagious, and kindness is free. This is what I remember each time I have an interaction with him. Today is his birthday, and this little post is my tiny little tribute to a hard-working, terrific human who inspires me with his unique brand of smart-assery. Thanks for being a great blessing to many, birthday boy!!
I wish you ALL more peace, more love, and you, Doc? I wish you that plus several magnificent rounds of golf with friends you adore in the next year!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!