Driving to work in the darkness of the early morning hours, two words captured my attention – “You OK?”
A business owner spoke to National Public Radio about his family-owned business declaring bankruptcy in 2012. The Charlotte Observer published a short story online, and Rodney Player’s phone started ringing.
Player’s son, who was away at college, saw the news. “He knew things were difficult for us,” Player said, and then his sentence kind of fell apart. He seemed to be saying the news surprised his son. Then, “I think the actual filing hit the public airwaves and, you know, he sent me a text, a simple note – you OK?”
This question speaks volumes. A young man is off at college and reads that the family business has filed bankruptcy. You wouldn’t fault the son if his first question was something like, “What does this mean for my education? Do I have to come home?” And maybe he thought such things, but the question he asked his dad conveys such a deep love and appreciation – “You OK?”
The story noted that Player was not OK. “In fact, even now when he talks about the bankruptcy, his whole demeanor changes,” the NPR reporter says. “He looks down. He starts fiddling with things. He gets quieter. He told me that day … he filed for bankruptcy was one of the worst days of his life.”
“You know,” Player says, “your friends, your neighbors, it’s difficult to walk around town when you’ve got something like that hanging over your head.”
And his mom, Frances, who had to sign the bankruptcy papers as well, had an especially hard time with it. “She had helped start this business 60 years before. She still worked there four days a week in accounts receivable, and for her, bankruptcy was just not something you did.”
Francis struggled with the decision and “lost a lot of sleep over it.” It was “not easy to get up and go to church that Sunday morning” after the news broke.
In this terrible moment for a family, a young man off at college wanted to make sure his dad was OK. My kids are like this. They care about me, and it means so much.
I sold our family land last year – the land my dad loved so much. It’s hard to fail at something important to your dad. I can imagine that Rodney Player struggled, in part, because he had presided over the failure of the business his dad had built. Besides the emotional challenge, there was the very real financial challenges.
Then, “You OK?”
Bankruptcy laws in the United States give businesses a second chance, and the Players’ business has rebounded and is paying off creditors from the past.
Second chances are a very good thing – in business and in life. They give us hope and new opportunity. God modeled this with a thing we call grace.
Accepting grace, whether in business or in life, can be difficult. It’s not easy to face our failures and our struggles. I can imagine God, in speaking to one’s spirit, asking, “You OK?” And it’s also very nice when another person, especially someone we love, asks, “You OK?”
(This post originally appeared on the Texas Baptists web site.)