It’s hard to fathom that it has already been 27 months since I last held her hand, rubbed her feet, or brushed her hair. In a moment, my life, and those close to us, took a sharp turn in a direction that he hadn’t planned. Yet here I am reflecting on the journey that I’ve been on over the last two plus years. A journey that has caused me to grow, to connect with new people, and that has seen some no longer walking in a path that coincides with the one I’m on. Throughout the challenges, I’ve found a few lessons that I’d love to share/
There are seasons for relationships. Not everyone is meant to walk with you throughout your entire journey and that’s ok. Some may only be there for a short while or a brief encounter, and that’s ok. Some people that I had thought would be there disappeared and left without as much as a goodbye. Some people that you reach out to are busy and, for whatever reason, you just don’t get the opportunity to connect or spend time with them. Life moves forwards and not everyone in our current circumstance will move forward with us as they are on their own journey.
As much as it may be painful to let go of certain relationships, doing so opens up room for new and exciting people to enter your life. There are so many new and different people in my life now that weren’t in the summer of 2021. Some are old connections that have resurfaced (such as a great couple Ezekiel and I were able to spend a few hours with when we were in Hawaii) and others are new people that cross our paths to walk alongside us, for us to speak into their lives, or for us to learn from. Trying to hold on to what was, or what should have been, would have robbed me of some great friendships and opportunities.
Be intentional. One of the best things that I did three seasons ago was to get season tickets to the Abbotsford Canucks, our local minor league hockey team. In so doing, I was forced to not lay around the house but actually get up and go somewhere. Ezekiel and I have enjoyed many games over the past three seasons and many of great conversations during the games. It’s not necessarily the game, but the intentionality of setting aside time and scheduling an event to invest time in someone that is important.
Recently, I met up with a man that had been going to the Bible study that I lead. We met up for coffee and just checked in and talked about life and gave him space to air his struggles. During the conversation he made a comment that struck a nerve. He mentioned that I actually meant it when I said that we should get together to have coffee. How many times do we say let’s get together but never do? How easy is it to forget about people in our journey and allow the days and weeks to slip by without intentionally scheduling some time to catch up with an old friend, or a new one?
Invest in yourself. About two months after Katie’s passing I enrolled in a Coaching course by the famous Ziglar Corporation and it was one of the best decisions that I could have made, not just for dealing with grief, but moving forward with life in general. I spent hours reading through the material, talking with the trainer, and attending the sessions over Zoom. Through this I learned many skills and developed a mindset that have helped my view my journey in a very different way than I did before. I have also used this mindset and new acquired skills to coach several different individuals in both a formal and informal format, using the material in a Men’s Bible Studying, and have seen the return on my investment while pouring into others.
Take time to enjoy life and the little things. A simple walk, hockey games with Ezekiel, and just spending time with friends, are all things I look forward to. We have had some big trips on our journey (Disney World, Hawaii, an Alaskan cruise, a trip to Ontario, and time in Whistler) and several smaller road trips or spontaneous outings. Through all of it, the important thing isn’t the event or the place, but the people and investing in relationships. Some of my favourite things during the journey came in small moments during either a big trip or just relaxing and enjoying relationships. We had a chance to catch up with a couple that attended Katie and my wedding while in Florida and spent the morning at their campsite enjoying breakfast together. Another memory was sitting at the pool in Whistler watching Ezekiel play with a couple of other boys and talking to the father about his son’s journey and finding out he was the boss of a friend we had met in Oman. Small moments can leave a huge impact. Make time for the small moments, even in the business of the day to day.
In closing, we may find ourselves on a journey that is very different from what we had expected. We have a choice at that moment. We can live in the what could have been or should have been, or we can forge ahead, strengthen ourselves and embrace the unknown. Through all life throws at me, I have made the choice that I will always choose the latter and choose to embrace the opportunities to grow and become a better person.