Zina Nicole Lahr
In Zina's short 23 years on this planet, she accomplished more relationally, creatively and impact-fully than most of us will in our entire lives. Seriously she was the most beautiful, sweet spirited, and innocent people we've ever had the privilege of knowing and working with. Zina worked on our film Moving On (animation sequences) alongside our good friend Austin Blasingame - but our roots with Zina go much deeper than work. During her middle school years Zina was a part of a Young Life group that I (Dave) brought leadership to. As you can imagine, Zina was a quirky young girl even in her teens, full of wander and creativity.
Having the burden, and yet immense privilege to do her funeral - I was so struck how easy Zina made it for me to speak about her with such awe. Truly, she had lived such a beautiful life that speaking highly of her and using her life as an inspiration for everyone in attendance was a beautiful, and easy thing.
Below is the program that I put together for her service - full of her drawings, sketches, and writings... and below that, you will see the Eulogy that I spoke during her Memorial Service. I hope it does something to inspire you. To impact you. To make you view your own existence slightly different.
Grace and Peace,
Zina Nicole Lahr - Message
I want to be really clear with all of you. My family loved Zina like many of you do and so what I am about to share isn’t meant to make this any easier, simplify it, or give us a cookie cutter answer - the reality is, we live in a broken world that can be very difficult at times.
I don’t believe there’s an answer sufficient to explain why something like this happened.
But today I want to share for just a couple of minutes, the question I believe Zina would be much more interested in: what’s next.
How do we live in response to Zina’s beautiful example?
I’ve known Zina since her middle school years and I can confidently speak for almost everyone in attendance today in saying she was without a doubt one of the most unique, creative, compassionate, and “present” individuals I’ve ever met. Everyone Zina came in contact with felt like they were her close friend. She had this amazing ability to let her life speak louder than her words.
It was a gift.
She was a gift.
I believe I know why she had this ability. And I want to share with you her secret.
She knew who she was. I mean... truly knew who she was.
I had the immense privilege this week of looking through her journals and sketchbooks. And I want to tell you something; for years, the single theme that has resounded over and over is the fact that she longed for her true home, and this was not it. That this planet, this life, it was only temporary.
Multiple times she referred to the fact that she felt like this life was like a “foster home”, a temporary place she lived in while waiting to get to her real home. Friends - we’re talking about the fact that even in her teens, she grasped in a very real, tangible way that heaven was her real home. Incredible. And yet, in her longing for her true home, she lived this life in a very passionate way.
I want to ask you a question -
Did you respect Zina?
Did you envy her in her childlike wander?
Did you ever wonder why she was able to live differently than everyone around her?
Why she seemed to always have time to be with you?
Like she was never busy - even if she was?
Here is her secret.
She understood how loved she was by God. I don’t mean it in a way that you may have heard it before. Not in a religious way - in fact, if you knew Zina at all you know she wasn’t “religious” at all. But she was in love. She knew she was loved by her God. At the core of her being she knew that the God of the Universe had a place for her and a home.
So that brings us to today. What next? What do we do with our lives in response to such a beautiful example?
First of all - Grieve. It’s a tragic loss. It was too early for us. Maybe not for her, but for us.
Secondly - Create space in your own life to figure out your own existence. Zina had figured out in her short years what got her up in the morning. It was her passion for relationships and her creativity that got her up. What’s yours? Make the time to figure that out.
Lastly - We all now have a choice.
To become bitter or better.
Closed or Open.
To become more like the people we know we were meant to be. It’s in our pain that we come to a place where we admit that we’ve reached the end of ourselves, we’ve given up, we’ve let go. In our pain, we get this opportunity to allow God to take all of our trauma and hurt and disappointments, all of those fragments lying there on the ground, and turn them into something we never would have been able to create on our own.*
We lose our life, only to find it.
May we be a group of people, because we saw the beautiful example of Zina, who live life differently.
May we pursue life.
Really pursue it.
And in that response, may we never forget the way Zina lived life to the full.
Closing Statement and Prayer:
Now we all have a choice.
To become Bitter or Better.
My question to you is - Once this intense grieving is over, how will we respond to Zina’s Life?
May we be people who:
- Take a good hard look at our own lives.
- May we slow down and take time to understand the holiness of relationships.
- May we be a people who pursue our passions like tomorrow isn’t promised - because of course it’s not
- May we be a people who live our lives as if it we're a work of art. That we would work on this great work of art, called our own existence.
- And lastly, may we listen to the words of Zina, and never forget “That sometimes our very lives speak louder than truth.”
(*reference: Rob Bell; Drops Like Stars)