Once upon a time I moved to North Carolina knowing only my older brother. In a short amount of time I was able to find a church home where I met some people who would stay dear to my heart for over 30 years.
One of those was a man named Art Peoples. Art was married to Susan, had three children (Abigail, Emily, and Andrew), and was a counselor by vocation. Art and Susan trusted me with their kids, encouraged me when I was unhappy about being single, rejoiced with me at my wedding, and welcomed my new husband. Art counseled me as a newlywed and then as a new mother. He and Susan honored us by agreeing to be godparents to our third child, our only daughter.
This past August, after several years of health challenges, Art unexpectedly went home to heaven. It was only after he was gone that I realized just how much I had learned from him and how much I would miss him. Here are just a few of the lessons I learned.
- Active listening takes patience and people appreciate it. Art would wait to hear you out, didn't try to finish your sentences, and didn't talk over you.
- Compassion is a noble virtue. Art was one of the most gentle and compassionate men I've ever known. He truly cared about others around him. He always looked to see how others were being affected by decisions or life circumstances.
- Quiet does not mean weak. I don't recall Art ever yelling or being aggressive (though he was Italian), but he wasn't a pushover either. He spoke his opinions quietly and with conviction, but didn't play the passive-aggressive game.
- You can be "liberal" and be a Christian. I grew up in a very conservative and legalistic home and Art showed me you could loosen up and still be a devoted follower of Christ.
- Small gestures matter. I went to work for the church we attended and on the first day Art brought me an African Violet for my desk. It was a small gesture that I have never forgotten, even after 30 years.
I will miss you Art, but never forget you.