losing a lover
Over the past few days, I’ve had an idea that is just bouncing around in my head that I’ve not been able to fully grab hold of. One of those deals where you hear something in a few places that just strikes a chord. The idea: that as individuals, we should be defined by what we’re for, not by what we’re against. Yours truly has spent year upon year developing a firm contrarian stance against about everything that I don’t do. Because surely, if Ryan Hervey doesn’t do it, it can’t be good, right? And maybe that’s why I’ve struggled to wrap my mind fully around this concept: it’s too close to the heart for me. With this blog as my witness, I’ve worked over the past year or so to focus on stewarding a culture of honor in all my dealings. For too long, I was able to cut down with enormous efficiency, which ultimately was my personal brand of self-destruction; I still have a long way to go, but it looks promising. Being good at relationships doesn’t allow for one to attack the views of another — it leads the other person to put up walls and it destroys opportunities for intimacy. This is an area where I’m constantly tempted to give in to the “I’m against this” attitude. Look around you and see the effects of this attitude on our governments, our communities, our relationships. It’s devastating.
Today, I’ll attend the funeral of a family friend. He and his wife have been close friends of my grandparents for nearly 30 years; I’ve known him since I was 6. Raised by a single mother in the projects on the northside of Chicago, he had a heart unlike any man I’ve ever known. A former tight end at Wake Forest, he was a large man. And a man who hugged. Always. Even the last time I saw him, the long arms and big body of his hug just swallowed me — my 225 lbs could just disappear in him. As I look back upon Duane’s life, I’m fairly sure that I didn’t agree with him on some areas of politics and theology. Yet, I can’t say definitively that it’s the case. Why? Because it wasn’t about the “issues” for him. The only I thing I know for certain is that he stood for Love. Not society’s definition of love, but real Love. He was always patient and kind. Never envious, boastful, or proud. I never saw him dishonor another, never witnessed an occasion where he sought out what was best for him. He was not easily angered — in fact, he smiled and laughed constantly. He didn’t keep score in relationships. His love was ever hopeful and ever persevering. I never remember being in his presence when joy and peace weren’t radiating from him. His dreams for me were always bigger than my dreams for myself — he only saw my failures because they kept me from reaching my potential. He always saw that potential. It wasn’t a façade; his marriage and the people his three children grew up to be are the fruits of a life spent loving the right way. As were his wishes, his funeral will take place at First Baptist Church in Johnston, a church that seats 500. I predict that there will be at least 200 who don’t have seats; I’ll be shocked if there is anywhere near enough room to support the amount of people who will attend — the only thing keeping those numbers down are how many of those folks have already died or physically unable to attend. He was a man who changed lives. His obituary: http://bit.ly/f6BUZI. Duane burnt the name of C.S. Lewis into my head and one particular phrase that he’d use with parents when he dedicated their child: “the greatest gift you’ll gift you’ll ever give this child is to Love each other.” I was extremely blessed to know Duane Gibson and feel the love of his gentle heart.
The man who grew up with no father in a neighborhood filled with hopelessness and dishonor knew the value of man who loved you unceasingly and left indelible fingerprints of hope, joy and honor on your life. Thank you, Father, for giving us Duane Gibson.