Michael’s dad had big shoes.
Not literally. He only stood about 5’3 – at least after he shrunk with old age. He didn’t sport a big pair of feet. But he had big shoes.
He served on five pastor search committees at their church. (If you’re Baptist, you know what that means. If you’re not…well, let’s just say it’s a big job involving lots of time and travel, and occasionally it can get ugly.) He served on the board of regents at their local junior college for more than 40 years, the longest serving board member in the state of Texas. He taught Sunday School. He was at church every time the doors were open. He was a general ophthalmologist for more than 50 years, and he truly loved his work and served his patients with great skill and humility and thankfulness. He served on countless committees and boards and organizations in his community. He loved his family, his Lord, his church, his hometown. And whatever he did, he did with a smile. As one family friend noted, he never spoke an ill word of anyone.
He was a giant.
The stories and recollections shared with us at his funeral brought enormous comfort, lots of laughter, great appreciation. He was genuinely loved and admired and respected by everyone who knew him. His was a life well lived.
When Michael and his mom and brother were planning the funeral and considering different Scripture verses, Michael commented, “there are so many; it’s hard to choose…” then he choked back a sob as he realized that even this is a tribute to his dad. The reason Michael had a hard time choosing a single passage of Scripture was because his dad taught him to learn and love God’s word.
Big shoes. Seemingly impossible to fill.
As I sat next to Michael at his dad’s funeral, as I held his hand and watched his heart break, as I listened to the beautiful and soothing cadence of the pastor’s voice as he read the eulogy, I realized that someday I could be sitting in another funeral home in another town, listening to a pastor speak. Of my husband.
And I realized that this pastor would be saying many of the same things. How kind he was. And generous. And humble. How he served his family, his patients, his community. How he did everything with integrity. How respected he was.
Because even though Michael’s dad left him big shoes to fill, he has already begun to fill them. He inherited and claimed this incredible legacy a long time ago, and he has walked faithfully in it. He continues to walk faithfully. Legacy is a huge responsibility, and it is one that Michael takes very seriously.
Michael isn’t perfect. His dad wasn’t perfect. None of us is perfect. But to aspire to greatness with humility and gentleness – that is as close to perfection as any of us will attain this side of Heaven.
And what we hope, what we pray, what we’ve witnessed evidence of already, is that our children continue this legacy, this aspiration to greatness. That they love God, love others, love the world. That they are kind. That they are honest and authentic. That they laugh. That they serve.
This is why I love Michael so much and am unspeakably proud of him. This is why I chose this man as my completer, my help-mate, my lifetime love. This is why I married him. This is why my greatest honor is to work alongside him in continuing this legacy and walking in these enormous shoes.
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9