I stumbled across my old friend, Wayne Earl, giving a TED talk (below). In it, he talks about the death of his 16-year-old daughter, Esther. I saw him give a similar talk at her funeral service. It’s a powerful story of love, and a truly amazing girl. A theme that runs through their story is that love is more powerful than death. I experienced this reality.
When I first met Wayne, I was an atheist – an angry atheist. And I was dead inside. He was the interim pastor at the church I hated going to, but went along with my wife. I hated religion – I sensed hypocrisy, judgement, and rigidness. But Wayne had none of this. He was authentic, loving, and hilarious. I was often surprised by his transparency. He accepted me where I was at. And he made me laugh.
We went out to breakfast one Saturday morning. I don’t recall all that transpired, but I recall him pointing out areas where we could agree. It was basic stuff about a better world, raising kids, peaceful resolutions…etc. He didn’t condemn me. He didn’t judge me. He didn’t think he was better than me. He just loved me.
There are times when we can all say, “I didn’t know it at the time, but…”, but this wasn’t the case at breakfast. I knew and felt his love for me. It wasn’t overbearing or awkward. It was real. As Wayne highlights in the video, love is real.
Those few moments at breakfast, as well as an always open door, ear, and a smile from Wayne, was the much needed water and the rich soil for the seed that was lying dormant in me.
Today, I am no longer an atheist. You can call me a Christian. I hope it’s one like Wayne.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson
Wayne Earl – Dying Is Inevitable. Living Is Not