Nearly 8 years ago, Stanley Lewis became my father-in-law. Little did I know how precious our relationship would be, or how much I would learn from this man.
I’m honoring him today because at 4:30 am this morning, July 4th, Stanley attained everlasting freedom as he entered Heaven’s gates. We knew it was coming but it’s still so hard to say goodbye.
Stanley is one of those rare men who know who they are and do not waver. Bold in values, character, and convictions, he was quick to let others know what they needed for hope and true life.
It wasn’t always like this however, in fact the first 40 years of his life were quite the opposite, filled with poor decisions, abandonment, addictions, and what he would describe as a real mess. When Stanley met Jesus, everything changed. His heretofore successful music career gave way to a new masters degree in counseling from NC Central which he and his wife Genie would build upon in their counseling practice. The pain of his own waywardness turned into credibility helping others face similar regrets and shame. Even today emails are pouring in from so many saying, “He saved my life, he’s like a father to me, I’m different because of him.”
Stanley taught me many things in our short 7.5 years together, like how not to let physical suffering become your identity. He contracted leukemia in his 30’s and had many health struggles through the years. Yet even in the hospital this week, barely able to speak, he was asking how we were doing.
He understood that you can’t change the past, but you can choose your future. It sounds trite but how many go on auto-pilot when tragedies occur, and never break free into the something greater coming next.
An accomplished musician from the Peabody Conservatory and Atlanta Symphony, his greatest aspirations these last few years were to see his 12 grandchildren not repeat his mistakes and to move to Israel. I love how he never quit dreaming but even as recent as Father’s Day 3 weeks ago, he was thinking about what adventures could still lie ahead for he and Genie.
I could go on and on amidst these poignant moments for our family. Most of all I’m just so grateful our goodbyes are temporary, and the hellos to come will last forever. I’m missing you already Stanley…..see you on the other side.