The Best Thing

I was very fortunate to see Mandy Harvey at the Tower Theatre on Saturday evening. Mandy is an American jazz and pop singer and songwriter. After becoming profoundly deaf following an illness at the age of 18, she left Colorado State where she was majoring in vocal music. Mandy became depressed and quit music. However, she eventually picked herself up off the floor and learned how to find the correct pitches when singing. Mandy has a lovely voice and a winning stage presence, but the most remarkable thing about her performance is the pieces of her story she uses to encourage the audience.

At one point she was talking about fear and how it keeps us from doing things. She said, “We always ask, ‘what is the worst thing that can happen?’ when we should be asking, ‘what is the best thing that could happen?’” Mandy serves on the board and participates in the nonprofit organization No Barriers, helping people with disabilities overcome obstacles. As an ambassador for setting aside fear and living our best life, she challenges us to continually ask her trademark question, “what is the best thing that could happen?”

During theologian Frederick Buechner’s early childhood the family moved frequently, as Buechner’s father searched for work. Buechner once said, “Virtually every year of my life until I was fourteen, I lived in a different place, had different people to take care of me, and went to a different school. Home was not a place to me when I was a child. It was people.”

Home = people

Sunday morning my pastor opened his sermon with the question, “Why? Why do we do what we do?” His answer was, “Because it is what we are supposed to do.” He was specifically referring to our current campaign to fund several outreach projects, but also generally about the nature of the church as a community. The church, like a home, isn’t a place, it is people. Moreover, it is a community that willingly sacrifices in order to give to those outside the group. He told the story from the Bible about four men who carried their paralyzed friend and lowered him through the roof of a house in order to get him to Jesus. It took a group working together to get one person to Jesus.

Community = people

Mandy Harvey talks about community, the group of people that support you, push you, encourage you. She says, “No one gets up on their own two feet. It takes lots of feet!” All of this made me think about the things we are working to accomplish at Kimray. We have a lot of opportunity in front of us. So many things we do will make a difference in people’s lives and in the corporate life of our community. Building Cornerstone, reaching zero injuries, diversifying, improving our processes, helping other leaders recover their leadership, developing a campus and a community around Cornerstone….are all about people, about community and about home.

It is easy and often tempting to ask, “What’s the worst that can happen?” We do need to be prudent and good stewards after all. However, when asking that question becomes the justification for not doing anything, we have a problem that needs to be addressed. Letting our fears control our lives and our decisions is not the safe way to live, it is the easy way to die. In the song, “Life is Long”, David Byrne’s lyrics set to Brian Eno’s music say, “Life is long – if you give it away.” That’s the secret. What we do for others is what energizes and extends our life, individually and corporately.

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the willingness to act in spite of our fear. We are not called to be courageous alone. We are supposed to be courageous in community. Together we can.

We have a lot to accomplish at Kimray. When people ask us why we are doing this thing or that thing, we can answer them, “Because it is what we are here to do.” Making a difference in the lives of those we serve. Serving those outside our community and thereby extending our community and our lives. Finding out what is the best thing that can happen….that is The Kimray Way.