A reflection of love & appreciation.
"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things."
I don't have any pictures with Jeff. No special handwritten notes or words of advice. I don't have stories of a friendship that grew stronger over the trials of this life. Despite the lack of these things I do have memories that will last a lifetime.
Before I knew Jesus, I knew Jeff. As I hear of Jesus’ love and compassion towards others I can’t help but think I once knew a man just like this. Jeff was compassionate and kind. He cared about matters of the heart. I am even willing to go as far as to say that he could see past the façade of a happy face. He asked questions that went below the surface of 'How are you?' and genuinely wanted to hear the answer. He listened and he cared. The image of Christ reflected in his life through and through.
That being said, I wish I had a funny or a sweet video to capture truly just how wonderful he was. So that you could see how a person that you meet for just a short time could have such an impact on your life. My words fall so significantly short. I'm at a loss of how to portray this guy who made such a difference in my life just by knowing him. There is not a day I don't think about Jeff, there's not a day I don't think about or pray for his family. They encompassed so much of what the bible tells us to be. Sweet loving people, so welcoming, and so accepting.
Jeff’s family welcomed me into their home, their heart and their church. I always carried self-reservations that I wish I didn't. I felt like I stood out as a foreigner, never really fitting into this church that I loved so much. But they didn’t see me like I saw myself, they saw me like Jesus does.
I may never get to hug his family again or tell them how strong I think they are. To tell them I am amazed how they continued to live for Jeff's honor and God's glory. How incredible their inspiration was in a season of hurt. I may not get to say thank you for the years of support and encouragement. But I can live with these things in my heart. I can keep the memories of a man we could all benefit from knowing. A person who was perfected in his goodness through his loving family.
Jesus gave us three commandments. Love God above all. Love your neighbor as yourself. Share the gospel to the ends of the earth. There is no doubt that Jeff accomplished these commandments and more. It is my privilege to attempt to do the same having known a man and a family who could be these things as my living example. These commands aren't just words written in the greatest book ever that no one can ever achieve. These are real life actions lived by one of the most sincere family's I have ever met.
I will never forget the moment we found out. That sleepless, confusing night. The desire for answers, the prayers that maybe we misunderstood. I will never forget the emptiness I felt in the days after. If someone as good as Jeff could be taken from us then why was (am) I here? I still struggle. Surely he was much more of a man of God than I am. Why would God bring home one of his great disciples and leave lost souls like me. My heart will never stop breaking for the significant loss. The family he left behind. I can only come as far as to guess that he was brought home because he understood the gospel. If I were to have been removed from this world at that point I can't say that I would have been saved.
Recently, I've been poking through a book 'If God is Good' by Randy Alcorn. In here he quotes a letter from a family who had gone through a huge loss. "We are part of the body of Christ and it is through this body that he ministers to us in our darkest days."
I cannot deny the trueness of this statement. As a church I had never felt closer. Never felt more of a need to be there then in those days and months that followed. I believe as the body of Christ, God ministered to each soul individually in that little town church.
I remember Jeff's dad, Pastor Bob, saying in a subsequent service that he no longer wanted to be here, in his selfishness he wanted to be with Jeff and Jesus. But he knew he needed to be here now.
I can't help but think of Paul's letter to the Philippians.
"'I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith." - Philippians 1:23-25
Perhaps Pastor Bob's words resonated with me at the time because I understood that feeling of wanting to end the pain. To be in a better place. I had lived through my own personal pain, suffering and loss. I managed that. I could put reasons behind those times. But this was different. I didn't have an answer or an excuse to fall back on. Yet today, I still hear his words and I know it was for a greater purpose. That's what I learned. That's how the Rosinski's live. That there is still purpose. That it's more necessary to be here right now.
There's so much to learn and understand from this suffering. But I don't want to lose sight of how good of a friend Jeff was. Encouraging, loving, welcoming, kind-hearted, sympathetic, out-reaching, gracious. I didn't have the opportunity to know him long enough to experience all his traits first hand. But it was always easy to see in the way he interacted with his family and friends that he encompassed this and more.
We could benefit from being more like Jeff. We could all serve to be better than we already think we are.
I pray that Jeff's children will hear an abundance of stories of how amazing their dad was. One of my favorite memories was the day we went out for dinner and ice cream. Jeff had asked me how I was doing. The standard answer is 'good'. But he asked again, wanting to know more than just the standard sugar coated answer. He didn't want to hear that. He wanted to hear what was happening deeper in the emotions that so many people don't want to look at. While talking to me he still continued to play with his son. They were dunking gummy worms in a cup of ice water. Such a simple memory but I can't forget it. The way he could carry on a heartfelt conversation while never letting his son play alone, it was remarkable. I knew in that instant this was a special moment I always would want to remember.
There's so many words and feelings I want to explain. But it's really simple. It's about appreciating life and appreciating others despite the bad days and seasons of struggle. It's about removing bitterness and jealousy and putting on acceptance and kindness. It's meeting a friend for coffee when all you want to do is go home and put sweatpants on. It's extending grace to others because we are so thankful when they do it for us. It's for being better than our natural self. It's intentionally making an effort. It's not a normal way of life. For most it won't come natural.
But our goodness can inspire others to be better. And if this is just a cycle of being better than ourselves then maybe we are not as lost of a generation as we claim to be. Maybe there is hope that one person can change many for the better.
"Shalom is the act of life lifting up and becoming an act of worship and celebration, a sacrament, an offering... It’s living with purpose and sacrifice and intention, willing to be held to the highest, narrowest possible standard of goodness, and in the same breath, finding goodness where most people see nothing but dirt." - Shauna Niequist, 'Cold Tangerines'.
Can we do that? Can we seek the ultimate peace while living a purposeful life full of intentions. Can we expect people to put us on a pedestal of goodness and know we will come through for them? Not because of our own strength but because of the power of the Holy Spirit in us? I pray that we will seek Jeff's real passion for life and love. That we could strive to live life to the fullest. With no room for cream. That one person could change the hearts of everyone they meet.
Jeff is one of a few people I've lost in this past decade. He by far made the most impact in a short amount of time. A huge part of why I don't like to say goodbye without telling someone I love them, wishing them well or letting them know they'll be in my thoughts. It's part of why it's hard to accept broken hearts. It’s why I don’t like to fight or to stay mad. It’s why I fervently seek the goodness in this world.
Be this person that makes a difference in someone else's life.
Because Jeff reflected the light of Jesus, he had a light that cannot be forgotten or diminished over time. So even though he is not with us anymore we can still recognize him in the light which reflects in those he left behind. He is in a kind word or gesture. A smiling face or a shared quiet moment with a friend. He's in the holding of a door for a stranger.
In a lot of ways, I have no right to even write this. But I pray that what is on my heart can make a difference in somebody’s world. I beg you to let this inspire you to be a better person, to love more, to seek to do good for others. I hope it also encourages you to let others know that they make a difference in your life.
Realize that our time here on this earth is precious and short lived. But it doesn't have to be in vain. Let's be the good we want to see in the world. Let's be more like Jeff on our pursuit to be more like Christ. Let's thank God for our friends who are already so much better than we are and let's make sure they know how much we care about them.
"Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand."
- Philippians 4:5
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