Hello and welcome to all our listeners to episode 8. Today’s show is a day of firsts. It’s the first episode of 2019 – Happy New Year, by the way – and it’s also the first interview we’re doing in the podcast.I want to get the new year off to a good start, so I’m sharing this particular interview because it’s something I think you’ll find uplifting

You know, most of us have at least 1 or 2 relationships we would characterize as good. As healthy. There’s nothing wrong at all with them. And while we’re doing just fine in these relationships, we don’t want to miss an opportunity to make them even better. To take them to a new level. In this episode you’ll hear a story about how several people did just that. I think you’ll find their example inspiring.

I’m not going to say much more now, reserving my comments until the end of the interview. I’ll just say you’ll be hearing from Charley and Ruth Shirley about a particular relational event that was quite meaningful to everyone involved in their story. As you listen, notice the different relationships that are part of the story, and the dynamics going on between them. So here we go.

[Audio interview]

This interview is a great story of several really good relationships that became even better. That grew more deeply. I think Charley summed it best when he said the point of this story, this incident was about healing. How his wife and daughter went out of their way literally and figuratively to do something they knew would be meaningful to their husband and father. I take a couple of lessons away from this story, that I hope you would too.

  1. Healing often takes time. A long time. It had been over 30 years since Charley’s first wife, Bev, had died. And this graveyard story of a few years ago contributed to Charley’s healing. We need to be patient with others and ourselves with the time it takes to heal. For Charley, and for some of us, the healing comes from clarifying what our future holds.
  2. It pays to listen well to people, especially the people closest to us. On the way home from Connecticut to Wisconsin, Lucy REMEMBERED what her dad had said, “If you ever are near Youngstown, Ohio…..” Lucy had a holy curiosity about her dad’s past. She asked about Bev. She wanted to know, because she realized that particular relationship is an important part of his life. And her relationship with her dad is an important part to hers.
  3. To care well usually takes sacrifice. After moving your daughter into a 3rd floor apartment on a hot summer day, and then start off on a thousand mile road trip back home, and then take a time-consuming detour to look for the grave of someone you never met, well that’s sacrifice.
  4. Sometimes the best care we can provide is when we have limited resources and don’t know what to do. Ruth and Lucy had difficulty finding the cemetery, and then the grave. But the difficulty didn’t stop them. All they had were car keys. Ah, the car keys.
  5. It’s okay when our first inclination is to not inconvenience ourselves for the sake of another. That’s normal. What is beautiful is when we move past our first thoughts because we know we can honor and bless someone if we don’t give in to our basic human preference for convenience.
  6. God uses symbols within events to let us know he loves us, cares for us, and that he is there for us. The picture of Lucy’s shadow over Ruth cleaning Bev’s grave marker. Ruth cleaning up what others have ignored. For Charley, it “closed the loop,” as he put it. Lucy’s shadow in the picture represented the future he wondered about over 30 years ago. Because he was able to move well through his grief, he was able to re-marry. He was able to have children, one of whom cast a shadow over both the current and former wife. Lucy’s shadow connected the three of them to bring closure to the tragedy that happened so long ago
  7. We really are all connected to each other, if for no other reason than we all come from the same source, God himself. Some day in eternity we will see all these connections, some of which we don’t quite understand in this life. For those of us with a relationship with Jesus, we will see Bev one day, and I bet she will thank Charley for sharing the story of their 21 months together. She will thank Ruth and Lucy for honoring her the day they cleaned off her grave marker. And all of us will give thanks to the Lord for the relationships he gave us, which if we look carefully enough, we’ll see, all point directly back to him.
  8. There are things God is doing in our lives that at times we just cannot explain. Why did Charley survive the car accident and Bev didn’t. The feeling of “Holy Ground” that Ruth talked about over Bev’s grave. Lucy feeling a connection with Bev, her father’s first wife. Unrelated to her by blood, but somehow related by spirit in ways we cannot explain.

Here’s the he main take-away from today’s episode, our show in a sentence

God is at work in beautiful, and sometimes mysterious ways, to bring healing, closure, and comfort to people in a manner that reflects his image and character as someone who loves us more than we can ever imagine.

To respond to today’s episode, ask yourself these two questions:

Where have you seen God care for you in unusual or mysterious ways? What are the opportunities God is placing in front of you to honor someone, to care for another in ways that reflect the image and character of God?

In next week’s episode we’ll talk about four levels of relationship skill development. Relationships require skill, and the good news is that anyone with the right heart can learn those skills if they want to. We’ll show you how.

Quote of the Week

Often we are attached to people in ways we don’t understand.
– Ruth Shirley, and her daughter Lucy

A resource mentioned on today’s show

Near the end of the show I mentioned I use the story in today’s episode in workshops I put on for churches and mission organizations. The workshop is training in how we can all care better for each other, and is done through our missionary care ministry, Caring for Others. If you’d like more information about this, please click here and I will get in touch with you.