About two years ago one of my youth lost his father. He had been sick for a while and Hospice had been called in. He was in a hospital bed in the upstairs bedroom of their home. He didn’t talk much and pretty much refused to eat the last month of his life. Justin, my 8th grade youth at the time, was very upset about it, but honestly it never showed on the outside. Justin is such a well mannered boy, he always says please and thank you, he opens doors, asks if he can help whenever he is around and honestly cares about people. You can tell that his parent s raised him right.
I remember the day his dad died; I got an email from his mom. The pastor at our church and myself decided around lunch time to drive out and see the family. Justin’s mom answered the door and we went in and sat down. She thanked us for coming and said that Justin had gone to a friend’s house to get away for a little while. She and the pastor began to discuss the arrangements. I sort of just sat on the couch and listened in and out of the conversation, but my heart and my head were thinking about Justin. What could he be going through? What thoughts were running through his head? Who was going to do all the things for him that a dad does? Who was going to have those conversations that a dad and his son have?
I couldn’t imagine what he was going through and I didn’t have answers to those questions I was asking in my head. When the pastor was done, as we were leaving, I told Justin’s mom to have Justin call me tonight and I will come pick him up and take him to lunch and hang out tomorrow.
That next day as we were sitting across from each other at Chili’s and talking, I asked Justin if he was ok. He surprised me by saying yes. He said that he knew his dad had been sick for a long time and that he would miss him terribly but he knew that his dad was in a better place and that he was no longer in pain. He went on to say that things were going to be ok. He said he had his mom, sister, the rest of his family, and his church and that he knew he could count on all of us.
I smiled at him and just thought in my head, what a mature attitude, I don’t know if I could have that mature of an attitude about losing one of my parents, and I am thirty five years old. I told him that if he needed anything, all he had to do was ask. We continued to eat and hang out and after some video game playing at the local video game store I took him home. As we pulled up in the driveway, Justin asked me a question. He asked me if I would help him to make a video of pictures of his dad for the funeral. I told him of course, anything he wanted or needed.
We made a great music video of his dad. We made fifteen copies so he could give it to family. The funeral was really nice and a ton of our youth can to support Justin. After the funeral during the reception, I watched Justin, his mom, and his sister hold each other and watch the video. It was such a sweet precious moment.
Justin showed me that he is wise beyond his years. He showed me that though his faith, he knew that God was taking care of his dad now and that we would take care of him. To this day he has never questioned that.
I hope that we all carry just a small portion of that wisdom as we continue through our lives…