A few years ago an employee of mine was getting married, and many of the people with whom we worked came to his wedding reception. Bruce Newbold, a dear friend, and colleague of many years came to the celebration. He no longer worked with our team but because we were all friends, he came not out of social obligation but of love and friendship.
The summer sun was about to set, and the wedding reception was nestled in a beautiful garden, deep in the shadow of a tree-covered hill. The air was comfortably warm, and it was another one of those perfect summer evenings you wish you could bottle up and save. I took a deep breath and drank in the moment, grateful for all that was – seen and unseen.
As friends and family of the newly wedded couple arrived, I began to see some of our colleagues and friends arrive, too. When Bruce and his lovely wife showed up, he was quick to say hello and offer his love to our family. Bruce had a tender place in his heart for Mitch, and I remember being so moved when I saw my friend give Mitch a loving hug. I could tell by the look on my son’s face that he felt special. Immediately I fought back the tears because my heart was filled with gratitude. I think everybody deserves to feel important and valued – and on this day Mitch felt all of that and so much more.
Bruce has a special gift of making people feel valued – but more importantly, he causes them to feel they are enough, just the way they are. Mitch sometimes wondered if he was enough … after all, he couldn't run and jump like other boys. In his little mind and heart, he sometimes wondered if he was worth less than others who could do things he couldn't. Mitch yearned to be like “regular kids.” On those occasions, I remember telling my son, with tears in my eyes, that I loved him no matter what. I reminded him that we are all mortal and flawed … and though imperfect I loved him perfectly. I didn't use the words, “you are enough” because I didn't know them at the time – but he knew my meaning, and it was the same.
I wonder how often people live out their lives wondering if they are enough … whether they measure up to some arbitrary or unreasonable set of ever-changing standards. Sometimes it helps to be reminded we are so much more than our mortal bodies and that we are just visitors in this place.
Without uttering a sound, Bruce speaks in ways more powerful than words … saying again and again, “You are enough.” Bruce has the gift of lift- and that’s just what he did for little Mitch on this day and many days before and after.
At the moment of this photo, my son’s fatal diagnosis was far from my mind. Mitch was healthy and seemed to be doing better than anyone expected. It was always the quiet prayer of my heart that somehow, some way, he would be spared. To my great sorrow and without mercy, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy stripped my son of strength and eventually life.
I cannot look at this image and not sense a strong impression that there was so much more happening than I realized. Heaven’s hand, although invisible at the time, was deep in the tapestry of our lives. You see, this man was more than a friend to our family, he also played an important role in Mitchell’s Journey and became an instrument of God in ways I may never share publicly – for some things are too sacred to share. It will suffice to say, this good man and this little broken boy … my little boy … have some heavenly ties that both break my heart and sew it back together again.
I am grateful for those who, like Bruce, have the gift of lift. For they lend a helping hand to heavy hearts and souls that are lonely or sick. And on dark days when I'm discouraged and want to give up, when I struggle and wonder if I measure up, I think of my son, and then my Father and I hear a heavenly whisper, “You are enough.”