09 November 2010

Bruised, Battered, Blessed

The hard times of life. The times when your are bruised and raw. When it hurts to breathe and each beat of your heart feels like it is sending glass shards through your soul. That's when it happens and you know. Your circumstances are horrible. You cannot imagine why everything has gone so horribly wrong all at once and in a nanosecond you are transported from the abject poverty of puny faith and hopelessness to knowing that you are safely tucked under God's wing. You know that all of your doubts to the contrary cannot keep you from His grace and mercy when He chooses to bestow it upon you.

I have had some of the hardest months of my life thus far come crashing down on me like waves, forming a tsunami of circumstances. Circumstances way beyond of my control, threatening to take my feet out from under me. The last three days have been full of anguish for me. My sister called and through her sobs and heartbreak all I could understand were the words, "Daddy is dying." I knew that he was dying and I knew that I was going to be crushed. Hearing the words said aloud felt like boulders being slowly placed on my chest. The weight of reality settling down hard. What you expect and the enormity of how it feels when the anticipation of grief is realized are always so different. I know that. What I didn't know is how kind and merciful God would be to me. Using unexpected means and people I would have never dreamed of, He rescued me.

There is a price we pay for living with all this technology and ability to travel with relative ease across continents and oceans. When I moved from California to Kentucky, I knew it would cost me being able to jump in the car and within a few hours or minutes being with family I love. I didn't know that I would be in an accident that would make it impossible for me to travel as I have in the past. I didn't know the economy would crumble. I didn't know I wouldn't be able to make it to see my Pop one last time. I didn't, but God did.

My family dynamics are nothing if not complicated. Pop was my 'step-dad'. The only time I ever made that distinction was to spare my father and my siblings on my father's side any pain or angst at hearing me call someone else, "Dad." My father and I came to an understanding about that before he died. He told me that the only grandfather I had known, who was technically my 'step-grandfather' was the best step-father any boy could have and he never thought of him as anything but his dad. I told him I understood because I had one of those too. My Pop was my last surviving parent. The last one to know me as an adult knows a child they care for, correct, encourage and watch bloom into maturity.

The anguish of knowing he was dying in California and I was in Kentucky unable to say goodbye to him was unbearable. Grief does horrible things to your ability to process information. I had confessed to my best friend that I was having terrible thoughts that I didn't want to have. I begged God to take them away and then it happened. My phone rang. It was my step-brother. A man I confess I have held little affection for over the years. I always assumed his resentment of my mother being married to his father would keep me from ever appreciating him. Age and circumstance change perspectives. He told me he was at Pop's bedside and was going to put me on speaker phone so I could say whatever I wanted to say. He told me he knew there was no way I could make it to California in time. Humbled and grateful, I got to thank my Pop for being the best dad a girl could have asked for, and for being the model of a man in my life. One who loved selflessly. One who guarded and protected those he loved. When I had finished, my step-brother said, "He heard you! You did great, he opened his eyes and he only does that when he recognizes voices. He heard you!"

I cannot begin to tell you what a kindness that was to me. He didn't have to make the call. He didn't have to assure me that Pop heard me. But- God uses means that we don't expect to bless us when we need it most. I knew at that moment God had gathered me up in his arms and was holding me close. I am grieving . I have moments when I feel like I am falling. Moments when I realize I will never again hear him say, "Hello, my darling!" Or hear him giggle at something outrageous I have said to get exactly that reaction. And then I remember God's kindness and mercy. Pop isn't being buried until December 4th, which gives me time to try and figure out the logistics of getting to California. The holidays are never a good time to look for cheap travel, but God uses means I never expect and if I am supposed to be there, I will be.

Dad has received permission to be buried in a historic cemetery. Pop's family was one of the first families to settle in Sonoma County. A lover of family and history, he wanted to be buried with them. A lover of family as well, I want to thank all of you who have been praying for me. My family in Christ has sustained me through so many trials. A lover of history I want to remind you to look back at the ways God has been faithful so you too can be looking forward to being blessed in unexpected ways.

Lamentations 3:32
32 For if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness.


Mark | hereiblog said...

Thank you for sharing, sister. Tears welled in my eyes while reading. I'm so sorry for your loss. Cling to Christ, He will mourn with you, comfort you and get you through.

I will keep praying.

Anonymous said...

What a blessing you are to those out there who have lost hope during times of severe affliction and tragedy. I don't know if you remember me, but we met a few months back via my blog post. I am praying for you right now and for your family in California. Sounds like your pop was a great, noble man. Stay strong, keep shining your light for Christ.

Carla said...

Huge hugs from me sister. Huge.