I am a visual learner. If you can paint a picture for me, I will actually learn something. Several months ago, I was troubled by a unique experience I had encountered. I ended up seeking out the counsel of a trusted friend. After sharing what I had encountered, my friend said: “You don’t have a shelf in your heart to put that particular experience on.” I liked that image! I could do something with that. It was helpful. And, I soon realized that my emotional shelf space was in need of expansion. During the course of this past week I was forced to make room on some existing emotional shelves to place some new events that will remain in my heart from this point forward. And, I may have built some new emotional shelves as well…
Late Monday evening, I received the news that 16-year-old Quinton McLean had passed away. In 2013, Quinton’s young father was killed in the line of duty. Lance McLean, was a sergeant with the Hood County Sheriff’s Office. I knew Lance from my chaplaincy work, but I had not ever met his wife. I met Katy the day of the shooting. I officiated at Lance’s funeral service a few days later. I was subsequently asked to serve on the Sgt. Lance McLean Memorial Foundation board. Quinton was called a “special needs child.” He was unable to verbally communicate and he was confined to a wheelchair. But, none of those factors defined his life. He was a delightful and fun kid! I officiated at his funeral service at 10:00 this morning. As I drove back to Granbury, I wondered what emotional shelf do you put such an experience on?
At 5:00 this afternoon, I officiated at Macy Holly’s wedding. She is a precious girl. She was in 2nd grade when I interviewed for the position in Granbury. I have watched her grow up. I have spent lots of time with her family. Her father is a police officer, whom I am very close to. I know and love her grandparents and her aunts and uncles! As she walked down the aisle with her dad, I maintained my composure… But as pictures of the wedding party were being taken, I wondered which emotional shelf to put that experience on!
I was out of town for most the week speaking at a conference and using the remaining time for a study sabbatical of sorts. But I managed to squeeze in some time with people who are near and dear to my heart. The conversations were rich and relationships were deepened significantly. I eagerly constructed more emotional shelves in my heart to make room!
And then tonight, all that it took was one phone call to top off an emotional week. My youngest arrived in China Thursday evening. He is going to teach young children English! I engaged in my first Facetime conversation with him since his departure. It was great. But, I knew immediately that a lot of emotional shelf space will be needed in my heart during his time overseas.
I have to return to my friend’s original question. What emotional shelf do I place the death of 16-year-old boy? He is the child of my friends! And, what emotional shelf do I place the weddings of special people on? The answer is actually quite simple. You place such events on the “connection shelf.” I am blessed to be deeply connected to the McLean family. And, I am equally fortunate to be connected profoundly to the Holly family. This week brought connections to new and longtime friends. And, how I love being connected to my adult children! There is nothing quite like the blessing of being deeply connected those we care about. As we share in the ups and downs of life together, we just continue to expand the emotional shelves of connection in our hearts! My saw and hammer are handy. I am ready to do some shelf building! What kind of shelves need to be built in your heart?