Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7 (NIV)
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:12-14 (NKJV)
We started out the New Year at a funeral for our friend’s son. Twenty year old Heath died of a rare childhood bone cancer which he fought valiantly for three years. He died on Christmas Eve morning surrounded by his family and friends. The service was just as Heath wanted it. Lively, contemporary and celebratory. Heath was a musician whose favorite groups included Guns and Roses. He enjoyed making music videos and performing with a variety of bands. I’m sure some of the music played at his service was never performed in a church before. That was just like Heath. He didn’t care what you thought of him. As his father said, “Heath was Heath and no one could change him.” For most of his teenage years, Heath was what some people would define as a freak. He wore the skateboard styles and pulled his sweatshirt hood up over his head. He sported a red bandanna wrapped around his forehead. He loved to skateboard and careened up and down on the sidewalks of our small town. He was selective in who he chose to be close friends with but had a smile and welcome for everyone. One of the themes that emerged during the service today was his change in attitude. As one by one, friends and family came forward to tell their memories of Heath, many said, “I didn’t really get to know him until he got sick.” Heath made a decision once he found out he had cancer. As his mother stated, “Heath said, ‘I need to change my tune.’” Though he fought long and hard through traditional and alternative therapies that left harsh side effects, Heath chose to begin living as though each day might be his last. He became freer in his willingness to share who he really was with others. He learned to say, “I love you” often. Another lesson Heath taught is to accept each other unconditionally no matter what we look like on the outside. We must start looking beyond the skin to the heart of who we really are. The final theme was forgiveness. When in her anguish his mother cried out to God for the reason for her son’s suffering, Heath himself provided the answers. “God is using my sickness to bring our family together again,” he assured her. Years of bitterness between divorced parents and estranged family members melted away at his bedside. His mother thinks it is no coincidence that Heath died on Christmas Eve with two sets of parents beside him. The family was together on the holiday for the first time in years. Last year, my New Year’s resolutions were many and all about doing something. This year, instead, I think I will take a lesson from Heath and change my tune. I will only strive for three things, accepting, forgiving and loving. There is no greater legacy than to live each day as if it is my last. Let 2009 be about who I am rather than what I do.