This Thursday, February 20th, would have been my brother Zach’s 40th birthday. It also happens to be exactly three months since his passing.
Needless to say, Thursday will be a hard day. This has been a hard week. A hard month. A hard season.
As I sat down earlier this week to begin praying and asking God what I should write about, I opened my Bible app and the following verse was front and center. It was the verse of the day.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4
As I read this verse, I was overwhelmed with emotion. As I read this verse I pictured my brother’s gentle face. I could picture his sweet smile, and laughter. He was so many things, but his humility was the cornerstone of his character.
Zach was talented. He was a full of life and well-rounded man. He was book smart, athletic and handsome. He could dance, sing and act. He could talk to anyone. Seriously, there was nothing he couldn’t do. He was charismatic, had an incredible memory, he was loving and generous. He has all of the reasons in the world to show up cocky and to be conceited. He could have boasted about his personal achievements, but he didn’t.
What he talked about was us. He talked about his family. He talked about his love of sports and every possible statistic. He didn’t talk about himself and all that he had done and what he could do. He shined the light on those around him and on the topics that he loved. He was never a self-promoter.
Since his passing we have had the incredible privilege of hearing countless stories of how he had gone out of his way to show someone he cared about them and that he saw and heard them. He listened for what people liked, he noted it, and then would show up with that favorite thing in hand to give away. He cared about details, the details of people, because he cared deeply for others.
He was also a great encourager. He showed his appreciation by always saying thank you, and saying “I love you.” He was always pleasant and even tempered.
Thursday will be a hard day. But Thursday is a day we will pause and remember the greatest parts of Zach. We will celebrate him by doing the things he would love. We will play catch on the driveway. Listen to Boston and Rush, some of his favorite bands. Sing karaoke. Watch Uncle Buck. Maybe even test drive the latest and greatest sports car. We will talk about the latest news, and reminisce about our favorite family vacations. We will make a day of remembering.
It doesn’t seem right to celebrate this milestone birthday without him. It doesn’t seem fair. It isn’t right that his last cake only held 39 candles. But if he were sitting here with us, he wouldn’t want us to make a fuss over him, because it wasn’t his character. So we choose to remember and celebrate the character of the man. The character of the man that was worthy of respect, honor, and love. Even though he is not here, his life continues to teach me, to inspire me, to cause me to be a better woman, mom, daughter and wife.
Gone too soon. It’s true. But not forgotten.
He was always humble. Always upbeat. Always focused on “the interests of others.”
My challenge to us today, this week and for our lifetimes is that we seek to become more like Zach, growing our ability to think of others more than we think of ourselves. How do we live more humbly? How do we live with the interests of others ahead of our own interests. How do we live out Philippians 2:3-4?