This past Friday I did something that I should have done almost two years ago: I got my ear pierced. Now before you gasp, let me invite you to read the story before you pass judgment. Hopefully then you'll understand [and besides, I had my ear pierced for years in college, even when I was in the midst of the ordination process, but I digress].
Almost two Junes ago now, Lisa and I had what was an awesome vacation with our two best friends and favorite people in the whole world, Jon and Siri Davenport. We had been planning the trip for months, actually 6-9 months prior. Like many things in life, it started out with a conversation that began with, "wouldn't it be great if...." and before we knew it, we had chosen a week, late June 2007, picked a place, the Wisconsin Dells, and were busy making preparations.
One of the many things that Jon and I talked about during our many weekly phone calls was the fact that his two boys, Seth and Jared, had wanted to get their ears pierced on this summer vacation. Jon told me that he thought that he might like to do it to; first to show support of his boys, they were a bit apprehensive, and two, he had always said he wanted one.
In a moment of exhilaration I said, that if he did it, I too would do it in solidarity with his boys.
Being that Jon and I were both pastors and leaders of local congregations, there was some talk between us as to how our churches might react. Both of our congregations were somewhat rural and not very progressive, so as good leaders we were trying to be sensitive by at least asking the question.
Well June finally came and before we knew it we were together for a week of hilarity, relaxation and amazing fun and fellowship. About the middle of the week the boys decided that it was time, time to get pierced that is.
We traveled the town, scoping out the best place to get it done and came across a tattoo parlor on the main drag, it looked clean and well kept and the personel seemed to be friendly.
If my memory serves me right, being the good father that he was, Jon went in first. After a minute or two out he came with the familiar golden bead seated in his now reddening ear.
Next was Seth, desperately trying to be as brave as his dad, he went in, “pop” and came out with the twin golden bead of his dads. Everyone looked at Jared, who was a bit timid and wasn’t all too sure that he was really willing to go through with the ordeal, but sure enough he soldiered up and went in, and came out; same read ear, same gold bead.
Then, all three looked at me, and well, I froze.
Not because I was scared, of the pain that is. I knew what to expect. I was terrified of what people would think; what my congregation would think. I serve a great church that unfortunately was going through a bit of a trying time, adjusting to someone who was probably casting more vision than they were ready to swallow at the time. So, needless to say, I didn’t want to throw gasoline on an already smoldering fire. So...
I didn’t go through with it.
I broke my promise, and I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening, the rest of the trip actually, torturing myself; wishing I had gone through with it.
Little did I know that two months later, I’d be burying my best friend.
Even as I write this I still get a lump in my throat.
I’ll never get that moment back. I’ll never be able to call him up and say, “hey Jon, I’m finally brave enough to do it, so lets go.”
I missed an opportunity to share an amazing and unforgettable time with my best friend and let fear and other people’s expectations and opinions get the best of me.
I’m sorry Jon. So sorry.
So, this past Friday, I spent the morning at the local Starbucks, finishing the Sunday message, packed it up, had some lunch, and went down to the local tattoo parlor and had my ear pierced.
Was I still concerned what the wonderful congregation that I lead was going to say? Yep. Did I do it anyway? Yep.
So, Jon, I wear this earring proudly, in honor and memory of you. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for sharing who you are, were and always will be with me. Thanks for investing in a friendship with a crazy fool like me. And thanks for all the ways that you have and continue to inspire me.
You’re a braver man than I ever could be.
I love you, and I miss you man.
Grace & Peace,
P.S. tomorrow is my first public worship service that I will lead with my new accessory. Pray for me ;)