From time to time, I’m reminded how fragile life is and how important it is to say the things I ought to before it’s too late. One of the harder things with which to cope is wrestling with things left unsaid. Countless people have greatly struggled with deaths of loved ones mainly because they wished they could go back and tell their loved ones a few things they failed to tell them.
People struggle as well with unsaid things relating to major change involving relationships. Couples break up, and often one or both wonder what went wrong. Why? Because things are left unsaid.
I know a man who has remained single his whole life. He is nice looking, funny, polite, charming and everything a woman would look for in a man. He has a solid job, owns his home, manages money well, has a good, even temperament and is also adventurous and fun. He is romantic, kind, considerate, well-mannered, educated, well-dressed, gentle and even a real tough-guy. He doesn’t drink, do drugs, smoke, gamble or cuss. He’s healthy, athletic and quiet. He can sing really well. He is sexually pure, and plans to stay that way until and if he marries. He is a solid Christian, and desires to be married, start a family, etc.
He loves his mom (and dad) and treats women with respect. He wonders why the women he dates always dump him. I’ve talked to several of them. They seldom tell him why, but many have told me. The consistent reason is they feel like he is way out of their league. Most think he is the perfect man and believe he needs the perfect woman. The ones who told me this feel like they could never measure up.
Meanwhile, he feels like he never measures up. He feels like he is doing something wrong. He thinks the women are simply too polite to tell him what’s wrong with him. So, things just get left unsaid, and he becomes less interested in dating at all — like he is simply not good enough for anyone.
Being a counselor for so many years, I’ve learned there are many stories similar to this. People leave things unsaid, and struggles ensue.
I’ve known pastors who leave churches because they are discouraged and feel defeated — like they are having no positive impact on people. Then, once they’re gone, people start sharing how much of a difference said pastors made in their lives. But then it’s too late to undo what’s been done.
Memorial services are often such beautiful things with people sharing great memories of how the passed loved ones positively impacted their lives. Yet, all too often those memorialized so well died without knowing these people thought so highly of them.
I’ve had to counsel many people who have lost loved ones, and they regretted not telling them how much they meant to them. It haunts theam. It keeps them up at night.
If you have to say goodbye to someone, don’t leave things unsaid. I’m reminded of a beautiful song by an old band, DeGarmo & Key. The words are below. Use them if you need to say goodbye to a friend or friends who mean a lot to you.
Seasons changes days go by.
People come and people go.
Though our paths lead us apart
They will meet one day I know.
For I owe you so much, dear friend
For all those treasured times.
For you’ve made me a richer man
Having had you in my life.
See 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
Pastor Jeff Adams is a professional Christian counselor who travels the world teaching but serves our community. His column appears weekly. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.