The Obsession of Imagination

English: The Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens...

English: The Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I received an email this week that reminded me how vulnerable seniors can be to doubt. Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m a senior (that’s over 45, isn’t it?). But I’m talking about the percolation of thoughts that can corrode relationships and turn close friends and relations against one another.

But first, let me tell you the first time this happened to me …

My mother came out for her last visit with us … Of course, we didn’t know it would be her last trip to Oregon but I planned a fun trip, anyway. It tied in at the end with a business meeting I had scheduled up near Seattle. We knew she’d want to see her favorite nephew (five years younger than her) so coordinated a stopover at their place outside Olympia on our return.


Everything set, we took family and Mom first to Victoria, BC, for a half a week. Our last day, we headed for Nanaimo—also on Vancouver Island—to catch the ferry over to northern Washington. Missed the ferry we wanted but caught a later one.

English: BC Ferries, MV Spirit of Vancouver Is...

English: BC Ferries, MV Spirit of Vancouver Island en route from Victoria to Vancouver. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By the time we got past Seattle and headed south on I-5 for Olympia, it was late. Very late. I was exhausted, the kids were restless, my wife and mother were likewise weary. It looked to be another hour and a half to my cousin’s house so I called and said we weren’t going to make it for the night but I’d drop them off in the a.m. before going back to my business meeting.

Next morning, I left them at Cousin’s house and I zoomed off to my meeting, two hours away.

Unknown to me, I had just dropped my family into a buzzsaw. They’d barely gotten into the house when my easygoing cousin and his dear wife started yelling … Yelling at my wife. At my mother.

My wife called two hours later from a motel—still upset—with the story. Seems my cousin and his wife, with whom we’d had many pleasant times together, had determined that since we’d stood them up the night before, we were terrible people.

Further details aren’t necessary, as they are both long deceased.

We pieced the scenario together and, combined with what I’ve learned later, what caused the uncharacteristic blowup was that some people … Usually alone or insulated from outside contact, often sedentary, getting up in years with far more history than future … And they start imagining things. Obsessive imaginings of perceived slights and hurts. Totally divorced from reality …

And my cousin and his wife behaved irrationally. Destroyed the relationship. They refused further contact. Because they imagined things that weren’t true.

Back to my email of this week. It advised me and a few others why the sender would no longer be attending our church. What? Yeah, out of the blue. There was a reason. One reason. So minor that I had to read it twice to figure it out. But what that item equated to was the feeling of the sender of the email (who’s alone and older even than me) that no one cared. No one listened. The person was disregarded.

I collected my thoughts and responded. I first expressed my regret, saying I could understand how one might feel if no one cares or listens, if one is ignored, etc. Then I ticked off eight or ten significant things I and others had done to include them. I hope the relationship will be restored, regardless where they go to church.

Imagination is a powerful thing. It’s a gift. It’s also influenced by emotion, which can be unreliable.

BTW, how’s your family doing? The one(s) you seldom talk to, the one who doesn’t tell you what’s on his or her mind? Remember, this is Christmas season. Everyone is supposed to be happy, to be included, to maybe even get a gift or at least a call. Doesn’t always happen.

Go down your cadre of people who just might fit the category of uncommunicative … lonely … questionable health … maybe even angry and distant … Maybe it’s their turn to call you. But if you’re reading this, you can be bigger than that. Forget their irrationalities. You can reach out. A call. Maybe a note.

Make it a gift of yourself. Consider the One who gave His all, to fill our world, to tell us we have worth, to listen to the beating of our hearts that no one else can hear. He will bring to your mind someone you need to call.

Don’t put it off.


About samuelehall

A follower of Jesus, husband, father of 3 adult children, writer and learner.
This entry was posted in Changing the Rules, Families, Finding me ... and you and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The Obsession of Imagination

  1. sf says:

    First of all, I envy you that you live in Oregon. My sis and I passed through there in order to head up to Seattle and boy, oh boy, we fell in love with both the countryside and the city side of that state. My condolences to you on your Mom’s passing.

    Wonderful post! I agree with what you are saying in regards to a sedentary life causing imaginations – and then anger. I had just met someone like that (or someone who became just like that), when that person didn’t used to be that way before. But I’m guessing that after some years of loneliness and keeping a lot of hurts within that person’s heart (or for other reasons unknown), that person had become somewhat of an antagonistic (might be a harsh word here) person. An immediately negative one, at least, I guess I mean. Anyhow, it freaked the heck outta me and I wondered if I might be the same way, since I too have been living such a life for the past year and a half myself. It’s a good thing I’m moving back home again later this month, where I can be my crazy self again with the folks who already know I’m nuts. Haha!

    Thank you for this post. You are a very good writer, Samuel (with a good name too).

  2. Steve Kilpatrick says:

    Hit the nail on the head you did, my friend!

  3. Florence Regie says:

    This touched me Sam, thank you.

  4. Juanita Paslay says:

    Excellent advice! What would Jesus do . . .? He loves unconditionally.

    • samuelehall says:

      You’ve asked the right question, Juanita. Thank you for the reminder. Today, I failed to love unconditionally. And I must mend the relationship with repentance and request for forgiveness.

  5. Dr. Yvonne Freeman says:

    I love the way God is using you. You are a devout follower, father, husband and friend. I know how you made me feel when I first came to Oregon to embrace my son Willie who had been accused and charged with something he could not remember doing, because he had a concussion. I have learned people can accuse and convict you of anything because they have the authority and unquestioned power to do so. Mandela wrote this book. No one cared enough to take my son to the hospital to validate and provide treatment. You befriended me and my son when we were in an unbelievable wilderness, a very frightening and dark place. As a mother of an African American male child, every day of my life since he became an adult I feared for his life, because of his being African American, an endangered species. There are more stories than I have time to tell. Being African American is a health disparity, statistically. Your relationship with him was reaffirming and took him to many places in the bible, a compendium of life lessons, where he had visited. It started him on a special journey and gave him time to think about who God intended him to be and become. Your friendship is a scriptural application that punctuated a kind of humanity forgotten my so many. Thank you for being in our lives.
    Your confused family was better for you being in their lives also. They know that now and have more time to reflect on it whether they went north or south in their transition.
    Happy Holidays, Dr. Yvonne Freeman

    • samuelehall says:

      Dear Sister Yvonne, thank you for your words of encouragement and blessing. I cannot know the paths you must walk, have walked, and will walk b/c you are African-American. But I know that God is gracious and loves you and Willie every bit as much as he loves me.
      Again, I Corinthians 10:13: No temptation or trial shall come upon you but such as is common to man, and God is faithful, and will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation (or trial) will also provide the way of escape.
      So, for your trials and uncertainties, our blessed Lord is with you. He does not want you to be fearful–for yourself, or for your sons. Psalm 18 blesses me at those times when I am uncertain and afraid. And there are those times.
      Have a blessed Christmas. Give Willie a hug for me.

  6. Julia Sumrall says:

    Very good! Gives me a lot to think about.

    • samuelehall says:

      Thanks, Julia Fay!
      It strikes me that your thinking will lead you to be a blessing to someone who perhaps hasn’t heard words of encouragement for a long time. And since it will be you, a person they hold in high regard, think of the impact you are likely to have …

  7. Terry says:

    Sam you are not a follower of Jesus. You are his apostle. What you give is of yourself and there is no greater gift as you well know. Merry Christmas on the day we celebrate the birth of the Savior. Terry

    • samuelehall says:

      Terry-my-namesake! Or is it Sam-Terry’s-namesake? You know how serious I am. Thanks for your encouragement.

      Proverbs 10:1 describes your words: The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life …

  8. Karen Orr says:

    Some great thoughts… Communication, making the effort to connect: so important.

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