Family News, Healthy Leaders

How God Teaches in Times of Fear, Loss & Pain by Mark & Roy King


MARK KING w Reply from Roy King


My son, Mark,  recently sent me some thoughts he recorded a few years back which he found in cleaning up his Google Drive.  They are his honest processing of an event that took place in my life in November 2011 that included over a week in ICU, then a few days in a step down unit and then more days in a rehab facility followed by almost two years of outpatient physical therapy.   My medical adventure stemmed from a very serious reaction to a blood pressure medicine I had taken for several years.  After reading Mark’s thoughts I have written a reply to him which follows his reflections.  — Roy King 4/07/15


ICU smells funny. I have spent a little over a week watching my father lie in a bed. There are cables and tubes everywhere. Sometimes I worry that my size 13 shoes are going to hook around my dad’s catheter, loosely attached to the bottom of his bed, and tear it out; sending two liters of stale pee gushing too the floor. This week I have a done a lot of worrying, a lot of waiting, a lot of trying not to acknowledge my worries and fears, a lot of getting upset with nurses that don’t seem to be moving quickly enough, a lot of being annoyed with doctors that never come by and a lot of thinking about my family. My life this week seems summed up best by the following list:

  1. Go to hospital and wait. Try to use phone to look at comics for sale on ebay.
  2. Wait some more and greet all of Dad’s co-workers and church friends. This involves me  trying to be nice as someone else offers to pray and I have to hold their hand.
  3. Wait for answers that never come quickly enough.
  4. Go find fast-food.
  5. Go back to hospital and wait. Try to stream netflix which is blocked by the free wifi at the hospital. Hulu works but as usual, nothing good is on.
  6. Go home and dream about hospitals and funerals.
  7. Repeat

As I am trying to process what it means to see my father in a hospital, I keep coming back to three thoughts.

  1. Lists are stupid. I don’t ever want to live my life going by a list.
  2. My greatest fears are steeped in losing people I love.
  3. Waiting makes you think.

I know that these three thoughts seem random and overly simple, but they keep running around over and over and over and over and over in my mind. I think they tie together and might be a piece of what God is trying to show me this year.

Let’s go backwards:

  1. Waiting makes you think.

I have had a lot of time to wait. I am naturally not good at waiting. Just ask my wife how I am with Christmas presents. November 25th is just as good as December 25th. I have tried to distract myself in every way possible while waiting on my dad. I go do the the meal runs for my sister and mom. I roam around the hospital and ride the elevator. I download applications on my phone and then delete them. I even played a game with myself where I would try to find a different bathroom every time I needed to go. Hospitals have a million bathrooms and none of them are clean. The point is that despite my high propensity to find joy in distraction, there was just too much waiting. Eventually I had to think.  My thoughts, which I had been really trying to avoid led me straight to where I knew they would go. My worries and fears.

Some of my fears are stupid and some I won’t even give voice to because they might overwhelm my entire being.

  1. My greatest fears are steeped in losing people I love.

This week I feared that I might loose my dad. This week I feared that I might have to spend another week or two in the ICU looking at him hooked up to tubes, watching him move from looks of extreme pain and discomfort to looks of raw fear and confusion born from heavy sedation and a ventilator. This week I feared that might not have been the best son I could be. This week I feared that I would see my mother, who is the strongest woman I know, break down.

This is where the blessing comes in. It is in the fears and worries that are wrapped around my heart and brain that I was reminded of how much I love my family. The love I have for my wife and parents and sibling, is a love that is deep and real, the thought of separation from that love is one of my greatest fears. I think that sort of love must be the love that Jesus talks about when he sums up the second greatest commandment,

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

As I think about it, that same love, that I first experienced from my parents, I can now not only reflect back to them, but also to my wife and some friends. My father and mother were the first two people on this planet to love me in a truly second commandment way. No wonder the thought of being disconnected from that is so scary. It’s also amazing to think that through their love and the love of God I learned how to love others.

  1. Lists are stupid. I don’t ever want to live my life going by a list.

This waiting that led to thinking about my fears leads me to my last thought. Lists are dumb. I want to stop thinking about life in terms of lists and focus instead on thinking about my life in terms of who I care about. Do I get to spend today being loved by God and loving him? That’s a great day. Do I get to love my wife today? Count that as a highly productive day. If I truly believe that the two most important things are the love of God and loving others then my true focus and measuring rod of success for a day should be did I get to receive and give love today?

I want my life to be surrounded by what I truly care about.

If I, when lying in a hospital, wake up to find money, security, a completed check list, a well organized calendar full of finished meetings and neatly crossed off successful programs but have not love, I have missed the greatest gift both my earthly and heavenly fathers have given me.  

reply from Dad — ROY KING:

Mark,  How can I thank you for this gift.  Mom and I have read it but I was afraid to bring it up when I saw you recently.  I did not think I could make eye contact with you to respond to your words in a group setting of church and Easter without breaking down and crying in front of others who would not understand.

I cry even as I work on this written reply because:

— You honestly describe me during those days and yet I have no memory of the events.  I feel I somehow was present but lost out on the experience.  I don’t want to be choosing to drift through time with loved ones — being in the room but not really present — now that I am out of ICU

— I feel your pain, confusion and great love in your words — it is a tender place in your heart and it feels like you opened a gate to a quiet hidden garden  in your soul and invited me in.  Thank you…

— I am so thankful we worship a God big enough to take dark moments and bring good lessons and growth in our lives through it.  I don’t talk as much about those days as I did the first year after they happened but there are few days that go by that they do not come into my thinking at some moment in my day.

— Since my adventure in ICU, hospital and rehab I have observed that I still get weird almost panic type feelings when I go to visit someone in those settings.  I have been back to Providence and other hospitals and even visited Steve Bradley who was just down the hall from my room at Health South.  I almost have to push my feet forward and it feels like the air is leaving the room.  BUT — I think it makes me a better visitor.  I listen more, ask a few questions and don’t hold hands when I pray… and I keep it short.  Not sure if that will fade or even I want it to evaporate.

— I am deeply touched and cry every time I read your perspective on your Mom and our attempts to be loving parents.  Somehow seeing my wife and our role as parents through your eyes felt very rewarding and satisfying.  So often all I can see are my mistakes.  And I agree with your respect and view of Mom’s strength — but wonder if my view is colored by my deep love for her.  I heard Jesus whisper to me as I read your words, ” See Roy what a treasure you have been given in Pandora… and rest in peace in joy — you have loved your children well — not perfectly for sure — but you did it well.”  O God that feels good.  I so rarely see anything in my life as having been lived well. (A mark of my own sin and pride I am sure).  But my tears were deep tears from a choked up heart feeling — my son knows I love him — I can die in peace whenever it is my God’s time.



What can I do that will help me run and finish well as a leader?

dscn2273Leadership is a long journey.  Along the way we experience many losses.  Effective and vibrant leaders learn to grieve well.

There are losses of friends moving on…losses through death…losses of money…losses of time…losses resulting from my sin or foolishness…losses that MIGHT happen… losses of job, house, and elements of support and security…”good” losses – children growing up, moving out, getting married… ALL of these and many more are in the rear view mirror of leaders move along.

Grief is the spiritual discipline of saying good-bye and then anticipating new life as we move ahead.  Things may never be the same but there will be life and some of life will be good.

Grief moves me from a clenched fist angry or holding on to what has been lost to a place of peace and being with an open hand before God.


Start with these passages and see what God teaches you.

John 11:35 (ESV)
35  Jesus wept.

Luke 19:41-48 (ESV)
41  And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it,
42  saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
43  For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side
44  and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
45  And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold,
46  saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”
47  And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him,
48  but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.
Luke 22:39-46 (ESV)
39  And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.
40  And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
41  And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,
42  saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
43  And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.
44  And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
45  And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow,
46  and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13 (ESV)
13  But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

What losses do you need to grieve?

There will be loss and no need to grieve in the Kingdom of Christ but for now — healthy leaders see loss as a part of living on this side of the fall; yet with the hope of an empty tomb.

Healthy Leaders, Leadership, Questions Coaches Hear

HELP! I am in a place of desperate need. What is God doing?

RoyGLRetrSep2010dGod uses need to deepen reliance.

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (ESV)
8  For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.
9  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 

One challenging aspect of parenting is to watch our children enter a season of desperate need. — and to not spring into action to meet the need.

Yet parents who always do meet the need actually end up robbing the child of essential reliance — on God, on the resources God has poured into them, on the community of others around them.

ALSO — those who learn to humbly receive and rely on God are learning how to give (also clearly described in 2 Corinthians 1.

God is not afraid or embarrassed by our needs.

Our seasons of desperation do not threaten God’s name.

Instead they are opportunities to deepen our reliance on our God and others in his family.  Read  2 Corinthians 1:10-11 (ESV) 10  He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11  You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Can you look back on a desperate time and now see how God used it to deepen your faith and compassion?

Healthy Leaders, Uncategorized

Who Am I? (poem from prison: Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Who Am I?

 by Dietrich Bonhoeffer Dietrich Bonhöffer, a young theologian of great promise, was martyred by the Nazis for his participation in a plot against the life of Adolf Hitler. His writings have greatly influenced recent theological thought. [This article appeared in the Journal Christianity and Crisis, March 4, 1946. Used by permission. This article was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.]

Who am I? They often tell me

 I stepped from my cell’s confinement
 Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
 Like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me
 I used to speak to my warders
 Freely and friendly and clearly,
 As though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equally, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.
Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were
 compressing my throat,
 Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
 Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
 Tossing in expectation of great events,
 Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
 Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
 Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?
Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, 0 God, I am Thine!