Obituaries can exagerate the truth about someone’s life. It’s possible we feel the need to memoralize what we want to remember and ignore what we don’t. The following is an obituary written by a client not about his physical death but his spiritual death. It’s an unadulerated biography about life after the flesh and how understanding his death, burial, ressurection, and ascension with Christ changed everything.
Names, dates, and other identifying information have been modified.
Henry "Butch" Jackson died today at age 67. He is survived by his wife Janet, age 66; his son Ted, 43, of Philadelphia; and his daughter Amy, 41, of San Francisco.
On the surface, Butch appeared to have lived a successful life. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1958 with a B.S. in electrical engineering. This was followed by two years of military service, building electrical grids on bases overseas. Returning to Wisconsin, he earned an M.S. in the same field.
He and his wife met in 1964 in New Jersey, where Butch worked for a Wall Street firm specializing in worldwide electrical engineering. He rose through the ranks to become chairman of the board in 1988, serving in that capacity for nine years.
Sounds great…right? But the truth of Butch Jackson was quite different. He could be compared to a Red Delicious apple, picked late in the season. The bright red color is almost irresistible. But when you take a bite, penetrating that attractive razor-thin exterior, you find a mushy, rotting core, much to your disappointment.
At an early age, Butch learned well the lessons of keeping that outer skin attractive and unbroken, in order to disguise the truth at his core. His skills at self-protection were finely honed and fooled all but those who knew him best and who, ironically, he cared about the most. They saw a weak, frightened, angry person who would never own up to his shortcomings; who insisted on looking "good" and "together", even if it was at the expense of his wife or children.
As a husband, he failed miserably in many, many ways. He refused confrontation on almost any issue, so deep were his fear of rejection and his discomfort with the anger of his wife.
He refused to discipline his daughter, in particular, when she needed it the most, leaving his wife to deal with her rebellious teenage behavior. He didn’t protect his wife from his children, letting her be the scapegoat for family problems. That way he could come off looking good! With his son he erred differently, as he was more comfortable disciplining him. However, he failed to discuss with his wife his concerns about her overprotection of Ted, such as controlling the clothes he wore, arousing his resentment.
Butch also had a mean side that came out at work. He harshly evaluated co-workers and subordinates, earning him the nickname of "Gestapo". He terminated people quite easily, with the candor and directness he was afraid to use with his own family.
Greed and lust were well developed in Butch. He feasted on Internet pornography, until confronted by a family member who used his computer. He flirted with other women, justifying his behavior by citing his wife’s negative personality.
Butch’s shiny exterior also masked a lot of arrogance. He had been taught from childhood that his family was "a little better" than other families. As an adult, he fed this image with a fancy house in the right neighborhood and a new car every few years. Looking good and looking successful were paramount to him.
Although he buried his own rage and anger, believing that they were successfully hidden, he judged those who displayed the same emotions as being inferior to himself. In short, he was a hypocrite and a phony.
His self-centeredness knew no bounds. He made career moves with his company without regard to the effect on his children’s schooling, on his wife’s ministry with young moms, or on his church’s needs. People pleasing was an art form. He always wore a smile, even when he was hurting, to "get the jump" on people he met; he wanted to be sure that he started off with a good first impression. It wasn’t that he cared about them; he just wanted to be sure he was liked so he could feel good about himself. At the same time, he was stubborn and underhanded, earning nicknames like "Sly Fox".
His insecurities ran deep. Frequent family moves as a child required repeatedly breaking established friendships and building new ones. Terrible acne in his teen years, and a short stature, also contributed to his poor self-esteem. All this led to people pleasing skills and a determination to become self-sufficient. He found hiding and lying to be useful tools in denying his insecurities. "Avoid rejection at all costs" was his motto!
But great freedom came on the day when Butch discovered that his flesh was beyond hope and beyond rehabilitation. He discovered that coming clean was all that God wanted from him… that God Himself expected nothing else of Butch’s flesh than what He got - a sneaky, lying, vile, double-crossing, rich hypocrite who maintained his facade at all costs. He finally discovered that his solution never would lie in the image he tried to cultivate, but in coming clean, admitting helplessness and hopelessness. This allowed the co-crucifixion to become a reality in Butch’s life, and allowed resurrection life to be manifested in him. It allowed Christ Himself to show up as the person in Butch whom He had always wanted Butch to be.