Lou Gehrig, a Coffee Shop, and a Box of Candy

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Almost two years ago we visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. It has been firmly established that we are a Baseball Family, so obviously this was an incredible experience for all of us. And it wasn’t our last – we went there again this past summer, and I have a feeling we will get there as often as we can. There is so much to see and learn and appreciate.

I knew that I would love it, but something happened there that really shocked me. As I was walking through the Plaque Room and looking at the stories of the men and women who have achieved greatness in the sport, I came across the plaque for Lou Gehrig, and I immediately began to cry. I know that is not the normal reaction that people have at the Hall of Fame, but as I read his story and thought about his life – and death – I was overwhelmed with thoughts of my Papa. See, almost nine years ago my Papa died from ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease. So reading about a man who suffered the same way as my Papa impacted me in a way that no one around me truly understood.

But even though they didn’t understand it, my pain was real. My heart was broken again. And I was hurting. My husband noticed, and gently rubbed my back. My oldest son looked over and said, “Thinking about PaPaPa?” I just nodded, and so did he.

He gets it.

A year and a half ago we were at my favorite place in the world: Ocean Beach, California. We were having a Best Day Ever, which is where we have breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the beach, capped off with a bonfire and s’mores.

In the afternoon, I walked down to get some coffee. It was a walk that I was dreading, but a walk that I knew I needed to take. It was a coffee shop that I didn’t want to go into, but I knew that I had to visit. Because the day after that particular Best Day Ever, I was going to attend a memorial service for a friend who had lost his life in a surfing accident. And that coffee shop that I visited? That was where he and I had life-changing conversations. I had to go there again, to remember him. To thank God for placing him in my life. And to pray for his precious wife and children.

So there I stood, surrounded by surfers and children and families. I ordered the coffee with a trembling voice and tears in my eyes. Again, not a normal reaction to the location. But intensely real, intensely personal, and pretty understandable when you know the full story.

Three weeks ago my daughter found a new type of candy at the store that she had never tried before. She brought it home, and everyone tasted it. Some liked it, some didn’t. I didn’t.

Not because of the candy. Objectively, the candy is pretty tasty, and I actually really like a very similar variety.

But this was not the first time I had ever tried that candy. The sight, sound, smell, and taste of it brought back the memories of when I used to eat that particular treat, which was during a dark time in my life. A very dark time. One I do not wish to go back to, and one I do not wish to share the details of.

So we don’t buy the candy anymore.

Some may think it is strange to avoid a silly thing like a box of candy, but that’s what I need to do. It’s what keeps me healthy and keeps me looking forward.

And if you knew the full story, you’d probably understand.

We live in a world where social media has allowed people to share their hearts and minds in a public forum. We can share what makes us happy, what makes us sad, what angers us, and what we find funny.

A lot of times, this is a very good thing. People celebrate together, comfort one another, encourage each other, and laugh together. I can support my friends across the country and around the world, and I know that they will support me. I have seen tragedies averted and families reunited through the power of social media.

But then there’s the ugly side.

The fact that we can share our thoughts and feelings in such a public manner means that we are open to judgment, ridicule, and scorn.

It comes with the territory, I guess. But that doesn’t mean that it’s right.

And that doesn’t mean that I need to participate.

It’s easy to see someone post about being offended and roll my eyes at how ridiculous it is that they’re upset over something I find so trivial.

But is that right? Is that what I should do? Is that what I want people to do to me?

Is that what Jesus would do?

No. No. No.

And No.

I don’t know. I don’t know their story. I don’t know their background. I don’t know the things they have seen or the pain they have experienced. I don’t know why they hurt, or what will help.

So I am left with three choices: I can mock them, ignore them, or reach out to them and try to find a way to make their lives a little bit better.

Too many times I mock. And I need to stop. Because that’s just not okay.

Too many times I ignore. Sure, I might not be able to actually do anything, but that doesn’t mean I should pretend they aren’t hurting. I should not ignore pain. I can at least stop and pray for that person, pray for relief.

And too few times I actually reach out and try to find a way to help. But I will keep trying.

Because I have been there. I have been the one having an intense reaction to a seemingly minor situation. I have been the one driven to tears by a song, sickened by a photo, and hurt by insensitive words.

I have been mocked when I was broken and taunted when I was in pain.

And you know what? It sucked.

So I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’ve hurt instead of helped, and ridiculed instead of relieved.

I will try to do better.

Will you join me?

Do to others as you would have them do to you. – Luke 6:31

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:37-39

See you soon.





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