“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” Proverbs 27:19.
Remembering Tim Lang
Tim Lang was a spiritual brother. He was a goof. He was a soldier. A husband. A father. If you remember back in like second grade, you might walk up to a kid you had never met and just ask, “Do you want to be my best friend?” That was it. So it seemed to Tim and me, although I actually knew his wife first. One of my earliest memories of Tim was at his wedding. Tux, cowboy hat, and pants tucked into his cowboy boots. I’m not saying everyone can pull off that look.
He and Amy came to bible studies with us. We just did life together. As the friendship developed, he and I would talk about pretty much anything. From prostrate exams to finding Jesus, we really never had a subject that was off-limits. I have been blessed with prominent men around me who will challenge me and be challenged by me. Tim was among the best.
He did not have to knock at our house. If he showed up with a pizza, he needed to talk. Sometimes he needed to hear something from me. Sometimes he needed to say something to me. The latter usually started out something like “I thought you said…” From there it could be something like “You said you wanted to be a more patient father. Yesterday, you were a jackass for your son. It’s not his fault he’s autistic. What’s up with that?!” It was never a rhetorical question; he expected an answer. He loved my family like it was his own, and it really was, I guess.
He was deployed to fight for our country several times. I think it was God’s way of preparing us to operate without him. He ended up being in vehicles hit with IEDs several times. His descriptions of being hit with the impact of a bomb were incredible. Like all soldiers, he saw things and experienced things unimaginable here. When he came back the last time, he was not the same. The war never left him, it just changed tactics. He and Amy faced IEDs here that no one else could see.
From Injury to Healing
When he went back to work in the oil field, he ended up having some pieces of equipment break at the very top of the rig. He strapped himself to a cable and had them hoist him to the top. The cable broke when he got all the way up. He ended up looking like one of those Plinko games bouncing off the rig. After a fall of over 40 feet, he landed on more equipment. That’s the equivalent of jumping out of a window on the fifth floor. It sliced him from the knee all the way through his hip. At the hospital, I could see his entire femur, from kneecap to hip joint.
I figure God knew it would take a big wound for Tim to hold still. Listening to him give a medical history was crazy: Eight (8) bulging discs, carpel tunnel so bad he couldn’t feel his hands, and many breaks and falls throughout his life. He also got hit by a truck once. He was as tough as they came, or the most accident-prone human I ever met.
He ended up off work for around a year. Multiple surgeries and time helped him heal a bit. It was during that time that Tim sort of came back. We called it Adult Daycare. Amy would drop him off at our house in the morning and go to work. He had no choice but to sit. I am so thankful for that time now. He ended up going back to school and then completed a Harley Davidson training. On the day he left this earth, he knew he had accepted a job at a large Harley Davidson dealership. Battles still, but he had made it.
Honoring a Hero
On February 4, 2015, he was killed in a single-car accident after hitting a patch of ice. Amy told me she remembered him telling her if he got killed in Iraq, he wanted me to speak at the funeral–it was his way of challenging me one more time. What’s up with that?
The analogy I used that day still rings in my daily walk. A partially deployed parachute does the recipient no good. Neither does a partially deployed friend. Tim was fully deployed. The gap between what he wanted to be known for and what he was known for was small. He was not perfect by any means, but I was struck because, at the funeral, dozens of people could have successfully argued that he was their best friend. That’s a pretty cool thing.
Living With a Purpose
I have asked myself a question regularly since that day “Am I living life with a purpose? What do I want to be known for?” In some areas of my life, I have a purpose while in others I struggle. I have learned that although what I want to be known for does not change, the degree to which I am accomplishing it can vary.
In the movie “Sandlot” a group of friends plays a never-ending game of baseball. As kids, we did that too. We could play for hours with maybe five guys. The rules were adjusted based on who was there. If no one was in the right field, you could not hit the ball there. The same guy pitched for both teams. He was usually the one telling you to lie off the outside pitches because you can’t hit to right and then throwing you an outside pitch just to check. He helped everybody.
There was always the first kid who had to go home. Despite our protests, their creators had another agenda. Teams realigned. We didn’t have enough kids to have someone at each base, so we played everything back to the pitcher—“pitcher’s hand”. A different version of joy would emerge, even though the game was not as fun as one less player. The goal stayed the same. The next day at school, the kid who went home would always ask what had happened after they left. We relived the rest of the game in the telling.
Finding Joy and Inspiration
Tim was that guy in my life. I have this picture of when I get to heaven him walking up and saying two things, “Damn, Jordyn talks a lot!” and “What did you do after I left?” Having no intention of telling him that it hurt so bad I stopped playing. Despite my objections, our Creator had a different agenda. I want to tell Tim that I learned from him. We agreed to want to, and I got better because of it.
I’ll tell him I sing with him in the car every trip home and he will roar with laughter because knows how terrible I sound. Aly has turned out to be one of the best people I have ever met and that she found the man for her. Mary still loves sincerely, even when it hurts. Always. He needs to know that Korbin is one of the biggest smartasses I have ever seen. It’s an artwork. Amy has just absolutely crushed it. She is amazing. I’ve had to play a unique position because he left. Everyone had to adjust. The game is not as much fun, but a different version of joy has indeed emerged. My life still has the same goal. When I see him again, we will have eternity to re-live life in the telling.
What do you want to be known for? Go to someone you trust and respect. Tell them.
Then ask them this: Does what I want to be known for match what I am actually known for?
What are you willing to change in your life to close that gap? How are living life with a purpose?