I am a lover of things done well. No matter how small the task, if it is done well it is admirable. I think this love for the small things is why I love Chick-Fil-A. They do everything well. They are one of the only restaurants I know who place fresh flowers on every table, train their employees thoroughly, and have found a way to pass on their pleasant culture to every employee. For these reasons alone I would eat at their establishment, but their food is amazing too. Who doesn’t love waffle fries dipped in their signature sauce? And I can’t get their Polynesian sauce anywhere else.
So for this love of chicken, and black and white cow suits, I found myself at Chick-Fil-a’s grand opening in Branson, Missouri. I was not disappointed. All the things I love about chick-Fil-a had found their way to Branson. I ate two rounds of waffle fries and drank a large sweet tea to celebrate. But in the midst of my eating enjoyment, I ran into an old college professor. A man who has impacted my life in a way I struggle to express. Maybe his impact stems from the felt absence of true men in my life. Having all sisters, and a “laissez faire” father, I craved a male role model. I do believe this is why Dr. Hayden Head watered so many thirsty areas in my life.
I remember planning my semester class schedules and knowing whatever electives I had were going to be filled with his literature classes. I never worked so hard to honor and respect a professor in my life. I not only loved his class content, but knew that he was teaching me things I should treasure and ponder my whole life. I was sick one class and had taken some medicine that made me drowsy. I struggled the whole class not to doze off. After class I immediately explained my situation for fear that I had offended him. This is my admiration for him .
I am now, still part philosopher and lover of classic literature because of this man. He taught me how to ask questions and use all of the mind the good Lord gave me. He valued every opinion in his classroom. Effortlessly and kindly redirecting students who might have been off track, he engaged his students as equals. He encouraged them to write well, but to never lose their unique voice while rearranging their essays to abide by good writing standards.
Dr. Head always offered to pre-edit our papers before we turned them in. In a way there was no reason a student should ever fail as long as they asked for help. In a way it seemed too easy, but asking for help was part of the education I received. Learning to ask for help was a lesson I never really learned at home. I always feared rejection. Dr. Head was a safe person to ask for help, no matter the topic. Those editing sessions were like private tutoring sessions. His tutoring gave me a chance to not only learn, but to be affirmed by a man who I greatly admired. His presence, in and of tiler was healing. His patience, kindness, and mutual respect unlocked parts of my soul I didn’t even know existed. I would love to say I am a grammar expert now, but I cannot claim to be even close. I can, however, say I am a grammar aficionado and over all better human being for having sat under his gracious tutelage.
Heck, If it weren’t for his presence I wouldn’t be blogging with the hopes of someday writing a published work. In Chick-Fil-A yesterday, I was able to express a minutia of these sentiments to this man. As usual, he was gracious, humble, and slightly uncomfortable to receive such accolades. His wife whispered to me, “Thank you, sometimes he wonders if what he is doing is making a difference.” Well it made a world of difference to this soul, an eternal difference. As usual his humble reply was encouraging to me. His response reminded me of what I often wonder, does my life make a difference? Do my efforts count? In that moment I realized no matter who we are, no matter what difference we are making, we all need to be reminded from time to time lest we lose heart.
So today I challenge you to take time to think of people who have impacted you. Then take some time to thank them. Even if you think they know, chances are they don’t know. I was challenged yesterday to get my eyes off of myself and remember to think of others first. Especially the ones who have helped form my very soul with their iron clad words, soft gestures of kindness, and challenging lessons. So here’s to you Dr.Head. Thank you for the gift of your time and knowledge. I am eternally grateful. I hope one day, The Lord will project the depth of my emotion and gratitude for your life onto your own mind and heart, so you may see the depth of my sincerity. Until then, I hope this simple thank you will suffice.