Recently, I was blindsided by the death of a beloved cousin who was more like a brother. This was a man full of life and love and faith with a wonderful marriage (to a woman who was instrumental in my marriage testimony) and three amazing grown kids as well a vivacious daughter-in-law and another on the way. He’s younger than my husband and in the prime of his life. So to say I was shocked by his passing is an understatement. Obviously, I am deeply grieved. Many are feeling his loss.
As family drew together to remember him and celebrate the legacy he leaves behind, certain themes became apparent because he exemplified them. My sister and my nephew took time to jot them down. The next day at his funeral where a crowd of people from 35 states all came together to celebrate his life (including some folks who’d found out at 5pm the evening before and literally dropped everything to come – such was the impact his life had), we found these same themes recurring over and over when people shared.
He was the same with everyone. A man who loved the Lord, his family, and people so deeply, and who made the time to let them know, support them, and build them up. Praying these life lessons are a reminder for you as well.
- Family is a priority. Be intentional about cultivating and fostering family relationships. They are worth the time and effort.
- Love well. Be intentional to encourage and uplift all those your path crosses. Speak life and build people up.
- Extend grace. You never know what someone is going through so be sure to extend grace and respond in love and compassion knowing you have no idea what may be going on with them (even times when you THINK you do, you still may not).
- Be authentic. Don’t try putting on a front, instead be yourself – mess and all – and in doing so give others permission to do the same. Then love them where they are.
- Surround yourself with support. Be intentional to put people around you who help you be your best self and love you even in the midst of your mess, and be that person for others.
And a final key lesson learned was:
- Don’t leave important things unsaid. We never know when a moment is a “last moment” so be sure to say the things on your heart in the moment.
I’ve set reminders in my phone so I can be better about being intentional with some of these. It’s too easy to let time go by and suddenly you aren’t where you want to be and relationships you cherished are now more distant. People are important and relationships matter. So hug someone you love and call someone today to tell them they’re special just because you can. I promise you if I could do so with my cousin today I most certainly would.
Papa God please hug my cousin for me and tell him how much I love him. Help me to live the way he modeled. And as with his life, to You be all the glory.
Enjoy painting sunsets cuz!