*All names have been changed.
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." Proverbs 18:21 KJV
A Fruity Breakfast
I almost didn't make it.
It was an early morning men's breakfast, the last week of our church's annual 21 day fast. This made men's "breakfast" somewhat of a misnomer. After some debate, I finally grabbed some instant oatmeal and a yogurt and headed out the door.
After a less than satisfying breakfast, we settled in for a Word from our leader Mike. The topic of the day was "the power of the tongue", but it quickly morphed into something different and very personal.
Mike shared his abusive upbringing at the hands of an alcoholic father; the verbal abuse as well as the physical.
"You'll never amount to anything. You're a failure; you'll always be a failure." About the only time Mike's father was proud of him was when Mike too began to follow in his father's alcoholic footsteps.
Randy jumped in. "I need to share something." Randy's story was not about physical abuse. He proceeded to recount a painful story of divorce, and how his parents, who were Pastors, turned on him because of it.
"My mother blamed me; wouldn't speak to me. My father showed up at my house some months later, late at night, and began to verbally attack me."
"You're going to hell", he shouted.
"I couldn't stay and listen" Randy recounted. "I walked down to the woods and left him at the door ranting. I could hear him shouting from deep within the trees."
After about 20 minutes Randy's dad got in his truck and left. Randy shared that although they lived less than 10 miles from each other, they never ran into each other in town. In fact, they had no contact at all. For 8 long years.
Finally, Randy decided it was up to him to make the first move. He drove across town, pulled up in the driveway, walked up to the door and walked on in. When his family members saw him, they froze, mouths agape. Randy's mom sent his sister upstairs. In a few minutes she returned with a box. Inside were cards and wrapped presents for every holiday and birthday that had passed. "The love of a mother was still there all that time..." Randy said, his voice trailing off in tears.
Several others shared similar stories of harsh words spoken and received, and several tears were shed (although we will all deny it. What happens in men's breakfast stays in men's breakfast).
Many spoke of adult children, no longer home and no longer within their sphere of influence. Randy spoke of the many, many hours spent working over the years and longed to have just a few minutes again with his dad, now long departed. We all admitted that we have not loved, not encouraged, not supported as we should have.
I left with my stomach still a little empty, but my spirit full and my mind determined that I will make my words a blessing to those who are still in my sphere of influence.
While there's still time to make it.