faith, Grief, Loss

Yet

My dad and I, 1995

It’s nearly midnight and here I am: Sitting on my living room sofa, basking in the courage that God has given me to share these thoughts.

For weeks I’ve shut out the little whispers and nudges in my mind that have been urging me to share these words. Like a little kid who thinks they can hide simply by covering their eyes. Like an ostrich with their head in the sand. Like anyone who has ever attempted to ignore something in hopes that it will just go away.

I don’t want to share these things. I don’t want to put my heartbreak on display.

But here I am. Facing the truth. Choosing to type these words, while my heart might be kicking and screaming… because I know there are people who need to hear them.

My dad 

is

dying. 

Just 6 months ago, my parents moved to NWA to be closer to us. And a short 90 days after that, my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Out of nowhere. In his prime. 

Today, my dad lay in a hospital bed. Entering the final days of his life on earth. Unable to stay awake or communicate most of the time. In unbearable pain. Dependent on others to care for all his needs.

Now. Listen up, folks. I believe in a God of miracles. I believe in supernatural healing. God has done it before and I believe He can do it again, so I’ll keep praying and begging for my dad to be healed. But, it’s not always God’s plan to heal. His divine purposes are often hard for us to understand. The reality is that, short of a miracle, my dad has weeks (maybe less) to live. 

My healthy, fun, vibrant 57 year old dad is dying from aggressive brain cancer.

This comes on the heels of recent heartbreak. Just 9 months ago, right as the pandemic hit, we lost my husband’s dad (my second dad). He was only 64. The travel restrictions from the pandemic outbreak prevented us from seeing him before he passed and we grieved his death from 2,000 miles away, isolated from all of our family and friends.

Our hearts are broken. My sweet kids grapple to understand how they must now say goodbye to another papa. This time we have a front row seat. Watching cancer destroy my dad’s mind and body piece by piece is gut-wrenching. It has happened so fast. He is not just my dad, he is one of my best friends. I am now acquainted with a whole new level of heartache. 

And yet…

I feel wrapped in God’s unshakable peace.

I might be falling apart, but I am held together by God’s relentless love.

Unbelievable heartbreak AND undeniable peace.

It seems like such a juxtaposition for these two realities to co-exist, and yet here I am. Living it. 

I’ve been thinking often about the words of the Israeli exile who wrote the book Lamentations. In it, he describes the heartbreak and agony of their suffering. Up until the third chapter, the book seems like a complete tragedy… and then he says this,

“I remember my affliction and my wandering,

    the bitterness and the gall.

I well remember them,

    and my soul is downcast within me.

YET

 this I call to mind

    and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness”

Lamentations 3:19-23

In the midst of this heartbreak and exhaustion and sadness:

Jesus is my YET. 

Because of His love, I am not consumed. Because of who HE is, I can acknowledge the pain and heartbreak of what I’m facing AND still remain hopeful–regardless of the outcome. A tragedy that has the potential to snuff out my joy is powerless when it is met with the reality of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

The word grateful doesn’t even begin to capture the immense gratitude that overwhelms me.

Over these past few months, I’ve found myself continually thanking God for giving me the dad that he did. I wouldn’t be the person I am if not for my dad. And I’m so thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to tell him many times recently.

He taught me to laugh hard, how to extend relentless grace to others and to never apologize for my values. He showed me how to make mistakes, own up, ask forgiveness and move forward. I have more than 3 decades full of awesome memories with him. From fried egg sandwiches, to listening to the Chipmunks Christmas album on our record player while eating cream cheese toast, to laying on the floor and looking at our Christmas tree in the dark every year, to father-daughter trips to the Sierra mountains blasting Steven Curtis Chapman CD’s on repeat, to smoothie and coffee dates even after I had moved out, gotten married and had kids of my own. I am grateful for every moment. 

The single most precious gift my dad ever gave me (aside from life itself) was introducing me to Jesus. There has never been a time in my life when my dad hasn’t been there sharing Christ’s love with me. Even from a young age, he taught me to know and to love God’s word. He challenged me to not just accept my beliefs as they were given to me, but to know what I believed and why. He taught me to learn about what other people believe and to listen. Every single day, since before I was born, my dad has been praying that I would grow and mature in God’s word and in God’s love. 

Someday soon my dad will take his last breath. His pain will cease and he will be ushered into a glorious homecoming. Joy and love will surround him and he will meet The Creator of the universe face to face. As my dad has told me many times over the past few months, he is getting the better end of this deal for sure. He will leave behind a hole in many of our hearts and I’m not ready to miss him.

So, I hold fast to the hope that I have in Jesus. I abandon my heart to the peace that only He can provide. I rejoice in the fact that the words that my dad has prayed over me will echo on throughout all my life. I thank God that all the parts of my dad that have become part of me don’t go away when he dies. And I praise God that I’ll see my dad again someday when I am welcomed home. He will be the one standing in the very front, yelling “work it, girl” and cheering like mad. 

For now, we are taking things one day at a time. Sometimes we cry. Sometimes we get tired. Sometimes we laugh. All the times we thank God–for the gift of my dad, Ken.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

2 thoughts on “Yet”

  1. Dear Christine,

    That was so powerful! You all have been in my thoughts and prayers. Your dad is too young to die but on the other hand we are not the ones who get to decide. I believe God is in charge but that doesn’t alleviate the pain of losing someone who is such a deep part of our lives. I will continue to pray for a miracle and also for you all to have peace no matter what happens. It is so hard to know what to say to someone in your position but I wanted you to know I’m thinking and praying for you all

    I love you 💕

    Aunt Annie

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Christine,
    You have a talent with words. They cascade down this page, dripping with talent wrapped in love, grace, and truth. You put to words so many things that I experienced during my dad’s passing and still today. You’re brave on the page. Your dad will for sure be cheering now and in heaven for this one! You are all in my prayers always.

    Like

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