Our son Timothy Lee Taylor Jr. (Leeboy) cut the line and went to Heaven on April 29th, 2021, at the age of 36.
He raced ahead and left way too soon. But not before he changed the world for all who met him.
We have all experienced love and compassion from someone right when we needed it. We had someone to sit with us or cry with us through heartache. Even more profound is if you have experienced being rescued from an imminent danger … I mean the underwear-changing kind of danger when you’re scared and begging for a miracle. Just like the Marvel movies where the guys with supernatural power show up just in time. Or have you been so excited about something that you longed to share it with someone? We were made to connect with others. It is part of our DNA.
We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, His rescue team for others. We are meant to be connected with each other. Our son Timothy Lee Taylor Jr. agreed with Dr. Larry Crabb that when two people connect with the soul, something is poured out of one and into the other that has the power to heal the soul of its deepest wounds and restore it to health. The one who receives experiences the joy of being healed. The one who gives knows the even greater joy of being used to heal.
We’ve all run into people who are hurting, and for me, I have to run into them because my tendency is to run away from them. It’s not that I’m not compassionate or sympathetic. It has to do with my insecurities and inadequacy in knowing what to do or say when I interact with hurting people.
I’m the guy who walks by a homeless person or someone with a sign asking for money and awkwardly drops in some money without making eye contact. Why? Because “I’m sorry you are in this crappy place, and I hate that I can’t do or say something magical that would change where you are at” is the only thing I can think of saying.
Lee was magnanimous and lived his short life leaving a large footprint everywhere he went. He could be counted on to love when someone was broken, defend when someone was dealt with unfairly, and encourage when someone needed hope. (Magnanimous describes people who are generous in overlooking injury or insult and being high-minded and unselfish.) That was Lee!
Lee Taylor was a father and a son, a husband and a brother, a caring companion and a loyal friend.
Only superlatives are appropriate to describe Lee. His faith was contagious. His compassion was unmatched. His charisma could light up a room, a home, a city block, a whole neighborhood.
To be with Lee was to be overwhelmed by Lee. You knew his heart and his soul because he showed them to you, because that was who he was, and because he wanted to know your heart and soul as well.
To know Lee was to know someone who loved his neighbor as himself, and absolutely everyone was Lee’s neighbor. Not only did he see the best in others, but he pulled it out of them, whether they wanted it or not.
One childhood friend said this at Lee’s memorial: “From coast to coast, he attracted people like a magnet. Lee’s home in Indiana was a hub for young people, their kitchen was always stocked with a never-ending supply of pop-ice and granola bars, and whose swimming pool and basketball court were basically open to the public, Lee was a gracious host. It was common to find someone sleeping on his couch, on his floor, or on an inflatable mattress. Lee lived to host and to share life with others, and he would keep you up until two or three in the morning in deep and searching conversation. Lee knew only deep and searching conversation.”
Although he lived in chronic pain for more than twenty years and he dealt with more than his fair share of ups and downs, Lee’s focus was always on learning, on growing, and on helping and loving others.
Lee lives on in the many, many, many people he touched, and in the many, many, many stories we have to retell.
We all travel a path, and Lee’s was more difficult than most. But his great, broad search for truth that opened ever so wide narrowed once more to understand that Jesus was to be believed, loved, emulated, and served. That he might have done that sometimes imperfectly reminds us that we all do it imperfectly. It is only by the grace of Christ that what any of us are trying to do in a stumbling fashion becomes perfected.
There are a few people in your life that you will meet directly or indirectly who will noticeably change your perspective or shift your paradigm about life. You will never forget that person or what they said or did that turned on the lights, pricked your emotions, gave you a new vision, connected with your soul, and recharged your zeal for life. Lee was one of those people. Even a short encounter with Lee produced that kind of unforgettable moment of worthiness and hope.
C.S. Lewis said that pain is the gift no one wants. Lee would agree. It made him a better person. Pain made him more aware of other people’s pain. It made him more empathetic, more transparent, more aware of the larger story we all have. Pain gave him a larger capacity to love and care for people. It also gave him a purpose or mission that was others-centered. Pain can take over your life and the life of others closest to you if you let it. But once you experience how valuable and important it is to be connected at the deepest level with someone who makes time to try and feel your pain, it changes your paradigm. When your soul is nourished from connecting with someone who takes a genuine interest in your pain, healing starts to take place. The healing frees up some capacity to stop focusing on your pain and begin seeing how valuable connecting can be. It actually loosens the bondage of what is causing your hurt and helps you see the pain in others. The pain gives you the capacity to better understand hurting people, and the experience of connecting can inspire you to free others up.
Lee found that when he was connecting with others and their pain, it took his eyes off of his pain and gave him a sense of worth and value. That’s what helping others does. It really is better to give than receive. But it is in receiving that you understand that value. Connecting with others in a soul-healing way benefits both the people in ways that nothing else will accomplish. Lee understood this completely. His best therapy for his physical, psychological, and spiritual pain was when he connected with others in a soul-sharing way.
We are forever grateful for God’s gift: giving us 36 years with Leeboy. And we are reminded every day that death leaves a heartache that no one can heal, but Leeboy’s love leaves memories that no one can steal.
Before he got sick, Lee was fully alive and fully present. And all Lee really wanted in life these past years was to be fully present and fully alive for Raylin, for us, for Grace, and for God to use. His pain and suffering were disabling most of the time, and he hated that he was distracted. He wanted to accomplish so much more in life as a father, a brother, a husband, and a servant of God. He saw the relentless battle of pain as the prison that kept him from being fully alive, fully present, and fully available to help others. He just wanted to get better, just enough to manage it, so he could be all the dad, husband, and healer to others that he knew he could be.
Dr. Larry Crabb says it best in his book Encouragement: “When two people connect at the soul, something is poured out of one and into the other that has the power to heal the soul of its deepest wounds and restore it to health. The one who receives experiences the joy of being healed. The one who gives knows the even greater joy of being used to heal.
“Imagine what could happen if God were to place within his people intangible nutrients that had the power to both prevent and reverse soul disease and then told us to share those nutrients with each other in a special kind of intimate relating called connection.” This site is dedicated to the legacy of Leeboy and to helping people heal one another by connecting the way Lee did.