Monday, June 16, 2014

Words We Don't Say... by Ben Hazlett

You may have noticed that we missed a blog on Friday. I would like to say that it was intentional... that, perhaps, it was a moment of silence to honor fathers, both living and those who have passed on.  But the fact of the matter is we had a busy week and we just didn't get to it.

That "moment of silence" idea is a good one though. After all, sometimes what we don't say is more important than what we do say.  For instance, the fact that we didn't have time to write on Friday is an indication that our family, work, and church responsibilities took precedence over blogging.

What other messages might be more importantly communicated by not saying anything?  Here's a few that I came up with.  The first might be exemplified  by the statement: "I really like them... and by that I mean "they couldn't be more annoying!": Of course, the most obvious example of words we don't say is sarcasm and non-verbal communication.  Isn't it interesting how we can say the exact same words and covey a completely different message. We often do this with out even meaning to.  Like when you can't stand the dinner your mom or wife made and you say "this is good," but you miss getting the right inflection, so the response you get is "you don't like it do you?"  I would venture to guess that this is where guys fall down more often than most other times.  Especially if your pregnant wife asks you "does this make me look fat?"  No matter what your inflection is at that point, you probably aren't getting out alive.  Or you might long for someone to say they love you or appreciate you.  These types of words left unsaid can be difficult and painful.

However, there are many instances in my own experience where words we don't say have taught me powerful lessons. For instance, the words not said might have been:

"I will sacrifice for you": I was about 14 and basketball and being accepted in the "popular" crowd was starting to be evermore important.  I remember asking for Nike "Air Jordan's" or Reebok "Pumps" because this was an essential component in my plans make it to the NBA and consequently have everlasting happiness (since athletes and celebrities are always so happy and well adjusted).  One time I was in my dad's closet looking for something and I noticed that all of his shoes were worn and of the less than desirable Payless vintage.  Stupidly, I asked my mom, "why doesn't dad have any Nikes?"  Came the response, "because you do."  He never said anything about it, to my knowledge he never even questioned it.  Giving me more than he had was just who he was. That lesson continues with me today and the unspoken words "I will sacrifice for you, because I love you," were imprinted on my heart far more deeply than if he would have just told me he loved me.

"You must be honest": Much earlier my mother taught me a life lesson as well.  I was 5 or 6 and completely bored out of my mind at the grocery store.  With out really thinking about it I grabbed a peanut off the bulk item shelf.  I examined it for a moment and then cracked it open. I felt a twinge of gilt as I popped it into my mouth.  Soon after that it was finally time to go. We had driven less than a mile when the guilt got to me and I confessed everything.  I thought that would be good enough, but my mother turned the car around and drove back to Albertson's.  My mom accompanied me back into the store, gave me a nickel and told me to go pay for my peanut.  There are only a few more embarrassing moments in my life, but not many.  As I stammered through trying to explain to the amused and slightly confused clerk that I wanted to pay for 1 peanut that I had eaten, I thought "how could she do this to me."  As I recall, we never had a specific discussion about honesty... we didn't have to.  She made it clear what was expected and after that I couldn't even pick up a penny off the ground because it wasn't mine.


"I Love you": As I mentioned, I took some time off this week to watch the kids while Mary was at girls camp.  Benson has spent the last month asking every day if it was time for daddy week.  He had every inch of our time planned from a trip to a petting zoo to swimming to a tour of his favorite parks.  No matter how much we do, at night he asks me what time I'm leaving in the morning and how early I can get home from work so that he can squeeze in as much time as possible. When I am home he is right by my side doing everything with me.  Many times when I am working on something around the house it can easily become a bit difficult.  I must admit that I don't always have patience with this, however, when I'm really paying attention and I look into his innocent little eyes I know he is saying "I love you daddy."  He does tell me that he loves me too, but nothing reinforces it more than having my little shadow following me everywhere and wanting nothing more than to be with dad.

As you would expect on Father's Day, I think a lot about my own dad.  He exemplified teaching and  loving without saying anything at all.  He just went about doing good, being honest, and providing as best he could for my family.  While I'm sure he would have loved to give us much more in terms of monetary and physical comforts, he excelled in providing us with all the lessons of life by quietly showing us and leaving us to fill in the words he didn't have to say.  I will always strive to be more like that and my greatest hope is that I can be the kind of father that I was so fortunate to have.

So... always You may have noticed that we missed a blog on Friday. I would like to say that it was intentional... that, perhaps, it was a moment of silence to honor fathers, both living and those who have passed on.  But the fact of the matter is we had a busy week and we just didn't get to it.   

That "moment of silence" idea is a good one though. After all, sometimes what we don't say is more important than what we do say.  For instance, the fact that we didn't have time to write on Friday is an indication that our family, work, and church responsibilities took precedence over blogging. 

So be careful what you say... and what you don't! Please feel free to share other stories of word's not said in your life.