Last week I was inspired.
Or maybe I was just reminded that there is hope.
A group of us travelled to Dallas to attend a conference designed to instruct, inspire and encourage. We sat through two and a half days of speakers who creatively and very purposefully designed content full of talks to fire us up as leaders.
We were reminded that people are created to be in relationships and that being alone to face life is both painful and dangerous. Two is always better than one. And three is better yet. We cannot live full, meaningful lives in isolation.
We were admonished that delayed obedience is disobedience. Intentions are useless. That the opposite of faith is not doubt, but fear.
One well respected pastor/teacher spoke about living in the “shadow.” A place of low grade agitation and frustration. He shared raw, unfiltered emotions and a journey of deep personal questions. It was both humbling and inspiring.
Each hour was packed with nuggets of immeasurable worth. Someone described the hours of teaching like trying to drink from a fire hydrant. So much, so fast, so powerful. One can actually ingest only a little, but having it splash all over you is good, too.
At the end of the third day we made a mad dash to downtown Dallas. We wanted to visit the museum and stand at the window where President Kennedy’s assassin stood. The history of that era was displayed, photos of the first family, Lee Oswald Harvey, and of course, the horrific seconds of murder captured for the world to see.
We walked out onto Houston Street feeling a bit of sadness and questions of intrigue.
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As we walked and talked, dinner became an immediate need. Someone mentioned they had seen a Dick’s Last Resort close by. I had never been to a Dick’s.
It’s a place that is advertised this way, “...where you leave your manners at the door... You’ve stumbled upon the rowdiest corner in the Big D. The music’s great and the food’s edible, so whether you’re a dysfunctional family, unruly fan, or unsuspecting grandmother, there’s nowhere else that’ll treat you the way we do. Consider yourself warned!”
Did I mention that I had never been to a Dick’s Last Resort? There’s a reason for that. I don’t usually pay someone to be rude to me.
Nonetheless, we learned our most important lesson of the whole week at Dick’s. Our waitress was a tall, shockingly crass, blond 50-year-old woman who set out to make our experience memorable, in the “worst” sort of way.
We smiled and joked and asked her lots of questions. Finally, she asked what we were doing in Dallas. So we told her that I am a pastor, that we were there for a “Jesus” conference. I saw the red of embarrassment climb up her neck and into her face. And then she began to tell us her story.
Why she left New York to find peace in Dallas. Why she listened to Joel Osteen but never went into a church. Why she lived with this guy. Why she never cried. Why she was crying now.
She grabbed our hands for prayer, we ate good food and belly laughed a few times. We took pictures together on the wacky looking stage. We wrote her note and left a big tip. She wrote us a note and gave us mugs as gifts.
Who could have known that we’d learn the most important lesson of the week at Dick’s Last Resort. We learned and we will not quickly forget that love in the form of simple smiles, eye contact, easy questions, hugs, being nice, matters.
Yes. Love matters.