It wasn’t until his death that I realized just what a significant impact he had on me. This past Saturday I found myself sitting in a crowd of 80 people who had gathered together for a memorial service to honor Dr. Loring.
To say that I knew him well would be misleading. I knew Dr. Loring from a distance. I couldn’t have told you where he was born, the hobbies that filled up his empty time or what his final days were like. All I knew is what he meant to me and what I saw that day.
I scanned the room and found some familiar faces while waiting for the service to start. By the end of that next hour, my life would have been deeply impacted by the people sitting next to me. The pastor got up and shared briefly about Dr. Loring’s early life. Talked about his marriage, family and the years he spent pastoring churches in Oklahoma and Texas.
A significant part of Dr. Lorings adult life was spent working with the homeless population in Dallas, TX. It was compassion, not pity drove him. A genuine care, not obligatory or with a savior-complex. Dr. Loring loved people.
About halfway through the memorial service, a strange thing happened. The event turned into an open-mic where those attending could share their thoughts. I kind of moaned to myself at first. This is going to be boring and take forever. It wasn’t boring, and I wish it took forever.
One by one, people stood up and shared the ways they were impacted by his life. A politician told of the evenings spent with Dr. Loring and all the wisdom he offered. A homeless man shared about how Dr. Loring had changed his life while he was on the streets in Dallas. Story after story from friends and family.
By about the tenth person I clued into a pattern. Each person mentioned a specific thing they remembered Dr. Loring telling them. His words stayed with them. Words that created a sense of identity or purpose. Words that comforted a broken place.
These were not simply antidotes or greeting-card phrases. Dr. Loring took the time to see people, recognize who they were & speak to that area. What he spoke everyone remembered. I remembered.
It was either the spring or summer of 2005 and I was at a conference outside of Dallas. My husband and I were gearing up to leave that fall and start a church in Seattle. Dr. Loring was there and came over to chat with me before one of the sessions started.
Chit chat and a few thought provoking questions met with my half-thought answers. The room was buzzing with people grabbing their last minute coffee before taking their seats, but Dr. Loring kept our conversation going.
I’ll never forget what he said at the end of our conversation. “You, you are lionhearted.”
That was the end of our conversation, but I kept replaying that line over and over. I tried to breathe it in and hold onto it. Those words spoke to a huge question mark that always seemed to linger over me.
I wanted to believe that I was brave. I desperately hoped that I would have the courage to live the life I wanted. All the insecurities of my early 20s seemed to try and convince me otherwise, but those words nailed identity into me.
Over the years I have pulled on those words. When things felt too big, too heavy or I was acutely aware of my shortcomings, I would remember. No. I can do this because I am lionhearted.
I owe much of what I have accomplished in the past 8 years to that one conversation. And that is why I was there that day to celebrate Dr. Loring’s life. It is why we were all there.
His words brought us together.
You know that kind of introspection that leaves you overwhelmed and nearly paralyzed? That is what I experienced on my drive home. I mulled over the things people had shared about the ways Dr. Loring’s words had marked them.
Lots of people say nice, kind and friendly things. But his were deeply meaningful and spoken with a level of intention and thought I’ve rarely seen. Those statements have given courage to many and provided a foundation for amazing things. I realied that I wanted to say things worth standing on.
I am mildly intentional about what I say. Is that a bad thing for a writer to admit? I want to say things like Dr. Loring did. I want to say something that has an eternal purpose in it. Something that will be the foundation for strong relationships, charity, faith and dreams.
Words hold eternal opportunities. Say something meaningful. —> click to tweet.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn into some guru who tries to be impressive and profound all the time. But, I am going to take opportunities to speak life to people.
Words should be constructive not destructive. They should dispel insecurity and impart courage. Our words should make a difference.
Take the time to say something meaningful. Your words might be your legacy.
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