I don’t see myself as overly optimistic in the classic sense of my glass being half full. Instead, I believe we all have a hope, or maybe the better word is faith, in things going a certain way. The whole objects in motion tend to stay in motion idea is kind of how we live our lives. Flitting about from commitment to engagement to obligation, filling our time with things that let us feel important by how important we make them.
And we all have a trust that in the morning, these social contracts will still be binding. Even those half-emptyers among us rarely see the hit coming. Instead, we expect to have the same marital status, job title, and career outlooks as we did the night before. So we bustle about, ticking checks down the next day’s to-do list while paying little attention to the small things. Paying little attention to all those possible last chances we let slip by.
Today, I attended the funeral for a friend. David wasn’t someone I’d been close to for a few years but was one of the first friends I made when first moving to Clinton. He and I bonded over a shared love for basketball and eating our sandwiches with chips layered on them. Dave was one of those guys that everybody liked. Easy going and hilarious, we used to joke about him possessing a hundred different laughs. From the fall of 1996 until a little after high school I stayed pretty close to him. In recent years, however, we’d barely spoke at all. We’d talked a few times about shooting some hoops together but just never seemed to get the timing right.
I just hoped that it would work out. I had faith that eventually we’d find a hoop and talk about old times and how we wish we were still in the shape we were back then. I often fall back to an “It’ll work itself out” line of thinking. And that can be a strength for me. When going through tough stuff, I believe in making it work. I don’t get deterred easily by a roadblock. But relying on that hope instead of intentionally seeking out to do the right thing for the relationship is just easy. It’s not putting in the hard work of what a relationship of any real value takes. The kind of love that means something in our relationships is tough and real and has a grit bore out of working to stay side by side. It involves not taking for granted all the possible last chances.
I’m not some huge John Mayer fan and while the song may be a bit cheesy, I think the message in ‘Say’ is both simple and impactful.
Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so-called problems,
Better put ’em in quotations
Say what you need to say [8x]
Walking like a one man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you’d be better off instead,
If you could only . . .
Say what you need to say [8x]
Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You’d better know that in the end
It’s better to say too much
Than never to say what you need to say again
Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open (a wide heart)
Say what you need to say
Our relationships are more important than our commitments. We all know that logically. But we all at least temporarily get caught up in cycles where we don’t act like it. We pass by so many possible last chances. And we hate ourselves when we actually miss the real last chance we have with somebody. Regret is a powerfully destructive force. I’m betting there’s at least one someone out there you know that could use a phone call or a session of hoops just to say thank you, give an apology, or tell them you love them. Or to talk to them about Jesus. It’s something that really struck me today after the service. How many chances do I let slip? So think about those people and figure out your next step. It’ll at least be worth not being left clinging to regret years later as you realize you let that last, last chance slip away. So if you’ve got something to say, go ahead. Say it.