I’m not sure where I first heard this entirely made-up word, but it describes my inspiration for today, and besides….I really have a thing for entirely made-up words. =)
When I think of “sticktoitiveness” I think of:
But it’s really more than that. I think it’s a decision to continue along the path of all of the above. To forge ahead when the job is basically “good enough” but not yet “great.” And I saw that today in my favorite clergy type person….who happens to be my pastor…..who happens to be my husband. =)
Everyone has their special gifts….those areas where they really excel and seem to shine. And while I could write about any number of things that would be true enough, today I was reminded how truly excellent my clergy-husband is at……funerals. No, really….he is actually known for his funerals. Seriously….there are people he doesn’t even know who have requested that he preside at their funeral. And today I was reminded why….
A man began attending our church several months ago. He had been battling a serious illness and, not surprisingly, had eternal things on his mind. The church welcomed him warmly and my husband visited with him a few times. We really didn’t have much time to get aquainted….much of the time he was too ill to attend church or to even have visitors. He was widowed and had no children, but was deeply loved by extended family and close friends.
On Saturday he died. And my husband received a call from a local funeral home. He had been listed as the minister to contact to speak at the funeral.
Even when something is your “gift” it doesn’t mean it is easy. The funeral was to be today – just two days following this man’s passing. To understand why that matters you have to know how my husband, Tom, “does” funerals. (And at the risk of misinterpreting his “method”, I’m going to take a stab at explaining.)
There is no other time in the life of an individual or family more painful, more raw and emotional than the passing of a loved one. And the greatest gift you can give to the survivors is to, in a very short period of time – get to “know” the person they loved and lost. And for that, there is no adequate substitute for….time and conversation. He sits with family and friends, sometimes in groups – sometimes individually. He listens to them as they share stories and memories….as they remember, and as they grieve. This can take several days as people arrive, sometimes from long distances, and for that period of time he is pretty much on call for these precious moments in time to speak with people about their lost loved one.
When he feels he has sufficient information, he then begins to gather it all together in a form that tells the story of their life. Not just an obituary or a eulogy….but the essence of who they were. People often say they feel like they knew the person so much better after sharing in their funeral. And for that to happen, my clergy-husband literally sequesters himself, nearly always spending the entire night before a funeral in his office, trying to tell the story in a way that is comforting to the family and friends, but more importantly, in a way that glorifies God and reveals his light and love in the life of the individual.
So as I heard the front door creak open at 4:30 this morning….the day of the funeral of our new friend…I didn’t have to ask what took him so long, or remind him that to get actual sleep before the day begins is a good idea. After years of watching him meticulously attempt to honor, as best he can, a person who will never have this special gathering of friends and family again, I knew the daybreak homecoming was due to his…..sticktoitiveness.
And that made me think of so many other people I know who not only exercize their gifts (art, music, business, raising children, cooking, teaching, listening….) with care but with that extra something that makes it truly exceptional. It’s the thing that makes you keep going long after it’s “good enough.” It’s why a musician can’t put a song down until they find that “sweet spot” in a groove or why a painter keeps going back to the canvas for the tiniest of brush strokes, or what keeps a dad awake long enough to read “Goodnight Moon” one more time, even though he knows he’ll do it all over again the next night, or why a writer edits 2000 good words down to 500 great ones. It’s also why God is so painstakingly and relentlessly in love with us. Creating this glorious world and all in it, including us, would certainly have been “good enough.” But God is determined to love us – whether we love God back, or even believe there is a God.
Everything we do impacts someone else along the way. It all counts, even when it seems like no one notices.
It all counts.
“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”
2 Cor. 9:8 NLT