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I Don’t Have Too Many Wasted Conversations

“I don’t have many wasted conversations!  I have an urgency on my life.” I wish these were my words but they aren’t.  My friend Blake Bergstrom said this to me as we were sitting in his glorious “man cave” behind his house, which is settled on 4 acres in Pegram, TN.  Many years ago he had a near death experience that changed his perspective on life forever.  ”Every conversation matters, every time is appointed,” he went on to say.

I was struck by his sincerity and his sense of purpose.  I was also convicted by my own selfishness, and the lack of desire I have to know and invest in people deeper.  Sometimes I “just don’t have time,” but really I just don’t care.  If it makes me look good, or if it fits my agenda, or if “I’m just in the mood” then I’ll do it.  That’s not to say I’m not sincere, but I like to dig only so deep.

My wife, Angie, is a lot like Blake.  Five minutes with her and you will be sharing your whole life story. I’m not kidding!  Once we were with a couple and the husband started sharing things his wife had never heard after years of marriage.  Angie loves people that much.  She is so sincere and so giving.  Because of it people trust her, and let her into very private matters in their lives.

She’s always been that way, but when we found out we were going to lose Audrey, Angie has had a stronger sense of urgency.  She has said many times, “I don’t have many wasted conversations, I don’t talk about the weather anymore with anyone.”

If there is anyone who has impacted me and made me come out of my shell with people it is Angie.  She has taught me how to love deeper, how to see the beauty in fractured lives, and how to get my hands dirty and walk with people!

It’s funny, I can sing in front of 20,000 people (okay, mostly 1,000 – 3,000 people every night, but 20,000 did happen one time) and be totally fine; however, you put me with the same person or 10 people over and over again and I’ll become a recluse. Suddenly, I have fish to wrap and I’ve never fished in my life!

I believe everyone needs “alone time” as I tell my three girls when daddy needs a break, but when you isolate yourself completely you can become so lonely and afraid.

How many moments have I lost because I didn’t say “hi” to someone and lead into something deeper?  How much more enriched would my life be if I had just stayed a little longer in the conversation, and once we walked past the awkwardness, found out who they really were?  How much more would my life be shaped for the better had I just cared enough to really listen?

About two weeks ago I had the opportunity to choose between wasted time or seeing the face of God in a special person.

Angie received an email saying that a woman we’ll call “J” was terminally ill with cancer, and wanted to meet me and have me sing for her before she went home.

What an honor and priviledge.  You talk about feeling inadequate. Who am I that this woman would want to meet me?  What would I say?  What would I do?  What if I messed up, or said something wrong, or hurt her feelings?

I decided that day was not going to be wasted.  J lives about an hour from my house.  We met at her home church along with some very special friends and her beautiful 6yr old daughter “AG.”

Here is what I learned from digging deeper and spending time with this wonderful lady.

She’s 31 years old.  She miscarried at 18 weeks this past October. Looking at her you wouldn’t know anything was wrong.  J was having a “good” day the day we met.  However, she has Cervical cancer.  Because she chose not to abort her baby, and not to receive radiation while pregnant, the cancer spread, sped on by the hormones in her body.  She has cancer in her liver, lungs, and her brain.

J is a fighter! She has already outlived her doctors predictions by months!

She has incredible friends.  She has been living with “S”  and “D”since July.  S is a breast cancer survivor.  She cares for J and stays with her every moment of every day.  They laugh, get their hair done, and go to movies; however, no previews. J jokes that, “I’m never gonna see the movie so why see the preview.”  I think that’s great that she can laugh at that.  Some of you may not find that funny, but I can relate.  When we lost our daughter Audrey there were times we would just laugh.  The timing felt “inappropriate,” but we had to to keep our sanity.  You have to be able to find humor in the unbearable things in life, or you won’t be able to deal with them.

I met the two beautiful people, “JW” and “DW,” who have adopted AG!  They will raise this little girl!  What brave selfless people.  The adoption process was a miracle!  It only took two weeks!  It just so “happened” that AG’s pediatrician is married to the judge who approved the adoption!

We had a great time together.  I spent about 3 hours with J and her “family” laughing and sharing stories.  We also did a little singing.  Actually, I did most of the singing and they graciously listened to about 15 songs.  J specifically requested Hiding Place, Wayfaring Stranger, You Raise Me Up, and Unredeemed.  Unredeemed is on our new upcoming CD and Amy sings the lead on it.  Let’s just say I gave Unredeemed my best shot!

It was humbling to see someone facing death so bravely and with such dignity.  What must she feel knowing she is not going to experience her daughter growing up.  It was heart breaking after we finished.  I was about to leave and little AG just held onto her mommy crying.  J just held onto her little girl crying with her knowing what is going to happen.  There are no words of comfort, there was nothing to say.  When we lost Audrey some of the most helpful people were ones who said nothing at all.  They were just with us, carrying our burden silently!

It was incredible to be able to spend time with J, to pray with her, and to know her and her friends more deeply.  I am a better man for meeting her.  I have more empathy.  I feel more deeply.  I have more sorrow.  I have more peace.  I feel more unsettled.  I have more unanswered questions.  I have more trust in God.  My life is more enriched because I’ve met this woman.

Please pray for J, AG, S, D, JW, and DW.

The doctors have given J several months at the most.  When we last talked she was in Florida for what may be her last beach vacation with her daughter.  Pray for AG’s soul.  That God will draw her close to Him.  That she won’t fall away, but will know Him more deeply because of her suffering.

J, thank you for letting me share your story.  S, thank you for contacting Angie and me.

We never know who we might meet, or what they might be going through.  We are the hands and feet of Jesus.  The question is, are we willing to get out of our comfort zone?

Be purposeful with someone today.  Don’t talk about the weather.  Don’t have a wasted conversation.

Ecc. 4:9-10   Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up.

Todd


16 Responses to “I Don’t Have Too Many Wasted Conversations”

  1. Jennifer says:

    What a beautiful story! Such an amazing woman. It often seems that people who are going through such circumstances, are the ones which we can learn the most from. I think it is a gift God gives them in their time with us. They live, as you said, purposefully. We can certainly learn from them not to have a wasted conversation! Thank you for sharing this touching story!!

  2. Dani says:

    Oh how I don’t want to have wasted conversations. There are so many times we go about our everyday lives only thinking of ourselves. Over the past year through the story of your Audrey my heart has been burdened for those that are suffering. Those that have lost someone so precious to them. I want somehow to minister to such people. I want to be there for them. I want to share their hurt and burden. I want to ease the pain. I was to sit with them and just let them know I’m here. I have a heart for the hurting and am asking God to use me in their lives. Thank you so much for your ministry. You are being used by God and I’m so thankful for your family. You will never know just how much ya’ll mean to me. Thanks for sharing your heart!
    ~Dani

  3. rose ollis says:

    I do not know why I am so amazed when I hear stories like this. God in most wonderful, simple, powerful way will cross the paths of many during their journey of life. How cool it was yours crossed with this amazing lady. Thanks for the reflections and reminder that this world is not “all about me.”
    Keep singing. We will keep listening.

  4. Tasha says:

    Thanks Todd for sharing your experience with this precious person.There are so many times when I will strike up a conversation with someone and it will be small talk.I want to take it further but it always seems kind of awkward.Like I don’t know how to transition.Maybe it is easier for some people.I don’t know.I will be praying for J and everyone involved.~Tasha~

  5. Melody says:

    Dear Todd,

    Thanks so much for sharing this story about J and her family. I will be praying for her and for her daughter, and for the new adoptive parents for that little girl. I can hardly imagine what it would’ve been like to be there with her…how incredible that you were able to experience that. I’m sure that your ministry brought strength and comfort to J and her family.

    I’ve been reading Angie’s blog for a long time and have prayed for you guys for a long time too. I met you at your concert in Arden Hills, MN (North Heights Church) this past winter.

    Thanks for your ministry. I really appreciate your music and the soul behind it.

    Truly,
    Melody

  6. Lucia says:

    I just said a prayer for J. I called upon the mercy of God to heal her so she could see her daughter growing up. Don’t give up J, pray for life. In our weakness is His glory. Our Lord is in the business of restoration and making one’s living great not merely good. He is a shield for those who trust in Him, in Him there is Hope and Great Victory !

    Watch the healing power of our Lord !

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DivRJm65ADc

  7. Lauren says:

    Todd, thank you so much for your thoughts here. When my mom died, it was hard to explain to people why I did not enjoy small talk anymore. It made others wonder when I would bypass the pleasantries and cut right to the heart of the matter. Thanks for explaining it in these terms so that I can better communicate it to those I love.

    Blessings to you,
    Lauren Biggs

  8. Thank you so much for posting this. Overwhelmed by so much in it. God is using you, Selah, and Angie in tremendous ways. Please stay in this humble state, submitted to Him, willing to serve Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

  9. Tracey says:

    What an encouragement it was for me to read this. May I never have another wasted conversation!

  10. Nickie says:

    I sometimes get frustrated that my husband is like you. I am more like your wife and love investing time in people, my husband doesn’t even care to invest time in our relationship and getting to know me. His complacency makes me feel as if he is numb and this makes me wish I were numb so that it didn’t hurt so much. It gets discouraging and I don’t know how to deal with it.

  11. Laretha says:

    Reading this reminds me of the days I spend sitting in front of my PC reading and crying thru Angie’s blog. I sat there for hours, days reading your story and crying and sobbing – the ugly sobs – I don’t cry pretty.

    I sobbed thru this. As a mother, I can’t imagine the pain. As a daughter, I can’t imagine the pain. As a Christian I know and believe the hope that will sustain them.

    Thank you for sharing. I won’t have another conversation about the weather!

    OH – I got the new CD in the mail today. I have listened to it no less than 3 times today. Amazing, beautiful, wonderful. Thanks to all 3 of you for sharing your gift.

  12. Hello Todd:..It was a year ago Christmas when I happened going around the dial and found you singing Christmas carols. I was so mesmerized that I watched through the end of your act. I would like to knoe when you will again be on TBN. Turner Broadcasting Network? I now have all your CD’s of Hymns, and have bought several for gifts so that others will enjoy them.
    Thanks for your beautiful remditions of these Hymns. Marilyn F.

  13. Diane says:

    Hi. I am a new fan of Selah. My first CD is Deliver me although I have listened to lots more on You Tube? Hiding Place fills my soul? I was looking to see if you were coming to my area and happened upon your blogs.

    Can you tell me if J is still with us on this earth? I lost my sister in law to breast cancer 2 years ago and we were all talking about her last night and how hard it must of been for to leave her baby Sienna (1) and Seth (3) behind. We also talked about whether she is in heaven. We never talked about such things as she never wanted to talk about the cancer or her passing. I feel her around us still 2 years later.

    Since I got your CD yesterday I have played it over and over and tears just stream down my face. This always happens when I sing Praise songs or listen to them.

    Thank you for the blessing of your music. I plan to share it with others. If you have a moment can you let me know how this family is doing. I feel the need to pray for them.

    God Bless (truly)

    Diane

  14. Sara says:

    Todd, thanks so much for your beautiful transparency here! What a great story and I’m so much inspired….this is such evidence that we are sooo created for relationship! You came out ‘a better man’….in so many ways as you mentioned! God bless you and your team….you have been one of my favorites for may years! Glad to have another album!!!

    When are you coming to Boise, Idaho?? We are still waiting!!! Come West Please!

    Sara

  15. Angel Tucker says:

    Hello Todd,

    My name is Angel and I was blessed not only by your concert but the opportunity to meet with you, Allan and Amy (you are all awesome!!!)when you did a show in Elmira, New York at the Clemens Center in Nov. of this year. After the concert, I did come and thank you for the show, get autographs and take pictures, but I also shared my story of the loss of my son with you. I did this only because you shared such a very personal moment with us. I understand how hard/easy it is sometimes to share pain/happiness about my son Kyle, your daughter Audrey. It hurts so bad sometimes because you miss them so much, but it’s so nice to remember them. So comforting to think about them and the love you have for them.

    I then came on to the website and read the story about J. AMAZING story, but what caught my eye to read is the title…such great advise from Angie and Blake not to waste a conversation.

    I often think, did Kyle know I loved him? He was 2 1/2 when he was killed by a car, and it still hurts not to remember if I told him “mommy loves you” that day. One of the things I learned from loosing my son is … If you’re thinking of someone, you need to reach out to that person and let them know. Don’t wait, don’t be to busy, don’t put it off for a better time… follow what the holy spirit is telling you and reach out, let them know that you are thinking of them and that they matter to you. I may be the only Jesus they will ever see…. That’s powerful.

    Through the death of my son, I’ve been able to reach out to other family’s who have lost their children and start a ministry from that. It’s amazing, it hurts (sometimes more than I think I can handle, but I trust in God to keep going… It’s so worth it!!!!

    I just wanted to say thank you for taking a minute to talk to me, listen to me and make me feel that I mattered!

    With Love in Christ,

    Angel Tucker/Elmira, NY

  16. Michael says:

    love the heart…heart the story.

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