Chapter 27: Seek Help
Danny Bird died at forty-seven years old. I spoke at this funeral, where we all tried to dress the way Danny would dress. I also tried to say what Danny would probably want me to say.
I remembered our meetings at work, our honest conversations. I remembered Danny’s facial expressions and nods. I remembered Danny taking his kids into the office at work and giving them food during our meetings.
I also remembered the video Danny did for us as we entered the season of Covid. So much was unknown. So much was uncertain. The four points Danny made in his video were the same points I tried to fit into my talk during the service remembering him. They’re also the four points I am still trying to apply in my life on uneven surfaces.
Danny initiated the video by saying, “Welcome to my backyard.” That is the type of mood he created. A welcoming, calming climate.
He then stated the obvious, “This is different.” That was Danny’s first point, and while obvious, it was needed. Wearing masks and being tested and not meeting in person and hearing regular reports of bad news—yes, that was different. We knew. But we needed to hear it stated by a professional counselor who spoke with an inviting tone. Life wasn’t as we had known it. Life might not ever be just as we had known it. We didn’t get a notice providing details. We didn’t get a warning early enough for us to prepare. We entered unbalanced terrain and everything, yes, everything, felt different.
His second statement was also apparent but needed. “This is hard,” Danny said. Again, he was peaceful in his tone, tranquil in his expressions. He was being filmed outside, so the atmosphere felt reassuring, soothing. Amid a pandemonium, Danny’s voice sent a message of assurance though the three words in themselves confirmed the confusion: “This is hard.”
His third statement? “I don’t like it,” he said. And I like what he said. Because I did not like the pandemic, I did not like what it has done and was doing to so many people I love, and I did not like living in the jagged land of unknown reality. To hear Danny say that he didn’t like it helped the rest of us realize it is okay to not like it. No need to pretend to be happy. No need to deny our discontent. We could join Danny in choosing to not like it. At all.
Danny’s closing words continued his calming cadence, while verbally offering some hope. “And that’s okay,” he said. Just those words. With a light smile and his normal tone, just those words. “And that’s okay.” For it to be different, for it to be hard, for us to not like it—that’s okay. He didn’t offer promises that all would turn out just fine. He didn’t state assurances that none of us would die. Just that, no matter what happens, when it happens, and how it happens, amid the unstable territory, that’s okay.
Obtaining a mental perspective that it is okay to feel everything is not okay. Grasping a peaceful calmness in hard terrain amid a world of things and people we do not like is hard. But knowing that is life, knowing we are not alone in feeling that way, knowing frustration is allowed and accepted, is, in some strange ways, making it much more okay for us.
Well, my friend Danny died. Too soon for his family. Too soon for his friends. Too soon for us. Too soon for me.
As I talked in his memorial service wearing the colored tie and the wild socks he probably would have approved, I voiced Danny’s points again. For Danny then, and for Danny now? This is different. This is heaven. He likes it. And, while not in that adorable place where Danny is, we will somehow all be okay.
Danny’s story reminds me of the time I chose to not only offer pastoral care to other people, but to see a counselor myself. It was one of those times I needed to apply what I encouraged others to do. Not to worry about the cost. To remember my comment to those who resisted counseling because of what they would pay. I often said, “You think you can’t afford to get help?
You can’t afford not to.”
I didn’t know that applied to me. It did. I couldn’t afford not to get help.
- What steps should you take to pursue help?
- Are you reluctant? Why?
- How can you work through that reluctance?
- What do you believe are the deep issues that affect your equilibrium?
- How can speaking with the right person help you work through those issues?
Each chapter is a gem, full of insight into human behavior, poignant stories, and practical advice. He doesn’t write as someone removed from hardship, but as a person who knows the depths of God’s grace and the assurance of God’s unfailing love. Maxwell is a wise sage and a companion brother. You can trust that he will not lead you wrong.