Max Schwolert's Journal
Can this be right?
Written Jan 18, 2013 9:22am by Phil Schwolert
Nothing feels right. That’s what I told my younger brother Matt, sitting in his boat as we tried to enjoy an afternoon of fishing, a few days following Max’s memorial service. He agreed. We had hoped to spend an afternoon on the lake with Tom to give our brother a brief reprieve from all the attention, confusion, and conflicting emotions. When he decided it better to stay with his family, we went ahead, for the same reasons.
Even though Matt caught a few fish (he always does), there was no escaping all we were feeling. Nothing felt right. It was not right to be fishing while our brother and his family struggled to cope. It was not right to stay home, to not make an attempt at moving forward. Much of the time, we simply sat on the water. I sent Tom this text, “We are thinking and talking about you guys. Doesn’t feel right to be out here. Doesn’t feel right to sit still. Nothing feels right about any of this. I’m hearing God say, “Be still and know that I am God.” He responded, “Enjoy. Just send a picture of your big catch.” Just minutes later, Matt caught a 4-pound drum on a lure designed to attract black bass. Along with a picture, I sent this text, “Matt just hooked a drum on a stick bait. Even the fish are confused about how to behave today.” Humor is a frequent communication tool in our family, sometimes to mask our feelings, more often to accentuate them. Tom was with us. Max was with us. That moment felt right, between brothers.
Still, nearly three weeks after Max’s death, nothing feels quite right. However, I wonder if that is as Max would have it. I wonder if he ever felt completely right. I wonder if God intends us to ever feel completely right, in this world that is. I regret and am sad that my life in Colorado prevented me from knowing this dear young man for all he truly was and is. At the same time, I am glad and inspired by him through the stories his friends and family have shared over the past weeks, the voluminous social media comments, and by the descriptions I have heard of Max by his employer and teachers. All described a thoughtful and caring person, someone who was fully engaged in this world through his activities and relationships. Also, they described someone who was different, who in many ways did not fit the typical teenager mold. He was not right, with the world.
Stories and comments revealed that Max was in this world, but not of it - not right with it. Through belly-deep laughter and wrenching tears, his parents and sisters conveyed both humorous and poignant insights about Max that confirmed he was often conflicted and uncomfortable with the behaviors of some peers. He frequently struggled with his choices to not conform to the expectations of his generation. Isn’t that how it should be for us all? Should we ever feel completely right in this world? Romans 12:2 instructs us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Max’s faith in Jesus Christ made him not right with this world. That is why his presence in it was so powerful and his impact will be so lasting. It is also why his absence is so painfully evident.
Nothing feels right. Max is no longer with us in this world. Yet, his positive presence is unmistakable. His family grieves deeply. Yet, his life continues to be celebrated. I am heartbroken at my brother’s family tragedy. Yet, I am gratified by how their community has surrounded them with love. I regret that my opportunity to know Max is no longer. Yet, I rejoice in his eternal security and am confident in our eventual reunion. It is right to not feel right in these early days of conflicting emotions. It is also right to not feel right in this world as we move on in the days to come, by faith.
Thanks for listening,
Uncle Phil Schwolert
What she (you all) said...
Written Jan 9, 2013 9:30am by Phil SchwolertDear Family and Friends,
So much has been said by all of you - by friends, family, and hospital staff during Max's illness; on this Caring Bridge Guestbook, FaceBook, emails, and texts; during face-to-face encounters at the visitation and memorial services, and meal deliveries; in stacks of sympathy cards surrounding me at Max's dinner table as I write this.
You have said it best. And what you have said has been invaluable to Max's family. Thank you.
Yesterday, a dear friend posted a heartfelt blog passage. It communicated an important and hopefully enduring message for us all as we reflect on the past weeks and the days ahead. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read and ponder it.
Follow this link to Terry Martinson Elton's comments on the "First Third" blog at Luther Seminary.
Much has also been said in local and national media. This attention has caused mixed emotions, while also creating opportunities to share Max's "Love to the Max" message. In that regard, I want to share something Tom shared with his church staff yesterday.
"I want to speak a bit to the media attention because that has been something that we didn’t expect and has caused some internal tension for us. We will be doing an interview with CNN tomorrow morning. We don’t know yet if this is the right decision, but we feel very strongly that part of what we can do to heal and bring good from this is to tell the story of who Max was and how he modeled Matthew 22:37-39 to love God and love people. What we don’t want is for people to think that we are taking advantage of this situation through the media for personal gain. I suppose there is a certain amount of risk in whatever we do. We have tried to make it very clear to the media that our primary goal (and the bigger story) is to inspire people to return to the things that are of utmost important in this life, like loving God and loving people. Max exemplified that."
ps. I would be remiss if I did not mention www.lovetothemax.org. You may have heard that Max's friends have already sold 780 "Love to the Max" t-shirts. This site has been set up to sell additional shirts, with proceeds going to support youth ministries at Max's church, Faith Lutheran Church.
Written Jan 3, 2013 1:59pm by Phil SchwolertTwo events have been organized by community members to help us all move through this challenging time. Both events are being hosted at the Bridlewood Golf Club, located at 4000 W Windsor Drive, Flower Mound, Texas. The Golf Club has offered their facilities free of charge.
The first event is tonight, January 3 at 7:00pm: Foundation for Healing - For PARENTS to help their children with loss
Colleen Mauboules organized this event in response to concerns of parents' need for support with helping their children deal with Max's death and other difficult situations. She said, "Many parents are at a loss, including myself, as to how to help our children cope with the loss of Max...or anyone for that matter. Those who knew Max....and those who have never had the pleasure of meeting a Schwolert... have many questions. Only one being..."How can I help my child through this?"
Colleen has recruited Kay Trotter, a local counselor and advocate in Flower Mound to lead this event. Kay deals with family grief counseling on a daily basis and her methods are Christian based.
You may contact Colleen for additional information: 214-587-6700, email@example.com
The second event is Saturday, January 5 and is a community balloon release, on the 18th green of the Bridlewood Golf Club in Flower Mound. The event is hosted by the Marcus Golf Team in honor and loving memory of their team member, Max. Please arrive between 5:00pm and 5:30pm to the Golf Club parking lot. Balloons will be provided.
A special thanks from the family to those who arranged these events and to those who participate. Again, your goodness has served the family well during this time. We hope to see you there.