This post is going to take a lot of vulnerability for me to write about and share. But I feel led to do so because of the first part of the message that Fr. Kenneth gave at church yesterday. The topic was inheritance.
Simply put, I did not receive a dime of my dad's assets after he passed away. What I did receive were the things he had already given to me or I to him. This shocked me only because I knew he really wanted me to be taken care of. It was something he had expressed a desire in doing my whole life, before he got sick with cancer. Even if he couldn't at the time, there was always an expressed desire of the ways he would have liked to or planned to in the future. He worked so hard to provide for his family, that I thought I would receive a little something after his passing that I could put towards a wedding or my own children someday.
Months followed my dad's passing, and I never received any sort of letter or phone call from anyone. I would be lying if I said there wasn't a part of me that waited to hear from somebody. It wasn't even so much the desire to obtain a sum of money, but I felt forgotten. The money, or the receiving of an inheritance, to me represented one final way of being thought of and taken care of by my dad. It was the idea of being and feeling forgotten that upset me the most.
I struggled with this. I even found myself angry with my dad for a short time. I worked so hard on myself for years to have a healthy relationship with him. Lying to him about why I was in therapy so he wouldn't feel badly about his shortcomings that hurt me. I put my heart and soul into making all the visitation, funeral and burial arrangements for my dad that would honor him the most and bring forth a message that he had been saved and had indeed gone Home. Why was it that I did all this work and in the end he forgot about me?
I have always been very aware of my grief process, so I knew this was part of the grieving. But I also found myself struggling with lies. Lies that I was not taken care of. Lies that I was not loved. Lies that I had been rejected and that my dad did not love me. I was angry with myself for feeling anger in my heart towards him being that he was gone. But I let myself feel the anger so I could let it go. I knew this was part of the process of me going to new levels of forgiveness and healing towards my dad, even though it was hard.
I prayed that God would speak His truth into the situation. Doing this very grieving and praying at Jared's house it hit me. I distinctly remember feeling God saying to me, "But look what I have given you."
My dad may not have left me an inheritance, but the blessings that were brought into my life following his death have beyond exceeded any money I could have received from him.
God brought me love: a man who has done nothing but selflessly love, support, and take care of me since we began dating.
God brought me a home.
God brought me my dream job.
I have been constantly surrounded by loved ones.
And I have always had my faith.
Once I sat back and reflected on this truth, I realized that I wouldn't have traded any of this for any sort of earthly inheritance. Because I am loved. I am taken care of. And I am worthy.
This continued healing helped me to reach even more depths of healing and forgiveness towards my dad. The forgiveness allowing me to grow an even deeper love for him.
The inheritance that we, all of humanity, are called to is one that far outweighs anything this earth can bring us--even greater than our greatest blessings that keep us going and holding on. We just need to keep trusting in the hope of the inheritance of a greater Kingdom and clinging to the truth that such an inheritance is available to us now if we believe.
God...God is everything. His love is everything. And his blessings remind us that there are greater things ahead if we keep holding on.
Hearing Fr. Kenneth preach yesterday morning on inheritance was so affirming to the healing that has taken place in my heart. I could listen to a sermon on it and instead of feeling bitterness, feel praise and wrapped in God's love.
He is calling us to so much more, so don't get caught up in petty earthly things that might drag you or your heart down. And don't base your self worth on earthly things.
You are loved beyond measure.
You are taken care of and have all you need in Christ.
You are worthy.
I thought about my dad a lot this weekend.
My boyfriend and I spent the weekend up north at his family’s cabin in Alpena. It was so beautiful and peaceful. I felt very blessed for such a relaxing opportunity.
My dad always loved the woods and camping. He had always hoped to retire up north in a secluded cabin in the woods.
I went camping with him a lot as a child. Sometimes I would even request to have my dad set up the tent in my grandparents’ backyard so we could go “camping”. I would bring all my Barbies with me and make sure they were comfortable. 😊 And snacks. I always brought snacks.
My dad also had a strong love for astronomy. He had so many astronomy books. I thought it was the coolest thing ever to bring some to school with me when I was in 5th grade to show my class. I think this is what sparked my own interest at such a young age.
Because of my dad's love for astronomy, he always had some sort of neat telescope in his possession. The first time I ever really looked into one was on his balcony at his apartment in Grand Blanc when I was 9 or 10. I saw the moon and all its little craters. I had never seen the moon so close in person.
My dad later got a much bigger telescope with a lens that was about 10 inches in diameter. I always wanted to use it. But for some reason we never really set it up to use it together. Maybe once. That is one thing I wish we had done together before he passed away. We talked about it a lot. And then life keeps happening and things get pushed aside.
The other morning as I was scrolling through Facebook from my bed in Alpena, I saw an article about how the Northern Lights would be visible in Norther Michigan Sunday evening around 11pm. Jared just this weekend set up his own new telescope which we had used at the cabin. I did some research on nearby parks that would be good for stargazing, so around 11:30pm Sunday night we drove out to Rockport State Park. We had hoped to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
As soon as I got out of the car I noticed a hazy trail that stretched across the entire sky from east to west. I thought it was clouds, but Jared informed me that it was the Milky Way. I had never seen the Milky Way so clear before. I couldn't stop staring at it.
Jared set up his telescope on the dusty and rocky land along the coast of Lake Huron as I laid out a blanket. Jared also brought his nice camera to take some photos.
Once the telescope was set up, I looked at the "fog" and saw the millions and millions of tiny little stars that make up the Milky Way. I was in awe.
We looked at more stars across the sky. Usually the brightest ones that twinkled and danced in the lens of our telescope. I remember seeing Saturn with my dad through a telescope at his house in Sterling Heights when I was young and how cool it was. I picked out from the sky what I thought could be a planet and ended up finding Saturn. There's nothing like seeing its rings for the first time in over a decade...I was so excited!
We took a break from the telescope and lied down on the blanket together to admire all that was around us, snuggling to keep warm from the cool summer air.
We saw so many shooting stars that night. So many that I stopped keeping track. The skies were totally clear in every direction. The moon had not yet risen, so there was no glare from that either. Although we stuck around to watch the moon rise around 2:00am. We saw that through the telescope too. Even though it was still behind some trees. 😊
I thought about my dad a lot Sunday night. How he would’ve loved being there with me to see what I was seeing. At the same time though, I felt grateful for this new life God has given me. That He has given me the opportunity to experience all that I have been able to with Jared. And the incredible healing that it has brought into my life.
We didn't end up seeing the Northern Lights that night. We left the park around 2:00am. Apparently they didn't start until 2:30.
Even though we didn't see what we had initially set out to, I ended up experiencing more healing than I set out to. Enjoying the things my dad enjoyed and enjoying them to the fullest. Carrying on his love of the universe and everything that exists outside of our own planet.
That night brought me hope and the reminder that there is more. There is always more. We just need to be deliberate in making time to look for and experience it.
Trauma. It's one of the main things that has led me to Christ over and over and over again in my life. Through the trauma, Christ was the only constant...the only thing that made sense. And the one thing that gave me hope that there were better days ahead. That Christ was with me and near, and close to the brokenhearted...close to the suffering and sick. Close to those who needed healing during and after the death of a loved one. Close to those who were going through a divorce and the children experiencing it. Close to those going through tough breakups and assuring them that their worth was not found in men but in Christ. That though we might be feeling rejected, we are extremely LOVED. Close to those trying to find that one job, through the rejections and hurt along the way.
But what happens when you are no longer experiencing trauma? What happens when all the hurt you've ever known has suddenly subsided and lessened, and you no longer feel like you're drowning and in desperate need of a Savior?
This leads me to where I am now...learning how to cling to Christ when I am beyond the storms. Beyond the trauma and the immediate pain. Beyond the divorces, break-ups, job rejections, cancer diagnoses, and traumatic death. I know I am not freed from these things for good, but at least and hopefully for a little while.
Since the 6 month mark of my dad's passing, I began to allow myself to really rest in the peace that God has brought me. For the first time in my life. But it wasn't until the peace finally came that I realized how my whole life I have never been given the opportunity to find Christ beyond the storm. Christ is in the storms with us, but where do we find Him when things are actually...good?
Since as far back as I can remember I have experienced some sort of repeated trauma, beginning from my earliest memories of having to go back and forth from my mom's to my dad's...the sadness of leaving and missing my mom when I was with my dad and the sadness of leaving and missing my dad when I was with my mom.
I found Christ at an early age. I don't remember exactly when, but if I had to guess I would say 7. I would pray every night when I went to bed. It just felt like the right thing to do.
That same God continued to come through in rough patches with my dad in early high school, the divorce between my mom and stepdad in early college, my first break up after a nearly 5 year relationship when I was 21...the list goes on and on.
When my dad got sick with cancer, I had the peace that God prepared me my whole life for that time. Almost 5 years of therapy on and off, being on anxiety medication for an insomnia battle the spring prior, and finally getting a steady job with benefits.
God came through as my dad was passing away in the hospital, giving me strength to get through and then coordinate all the arrangements. I didn't even get a chance to begin really grieving that week because I was so busy.
Then God came through in bringing me my dream job, my boyfriend, a home, and a sweet puppy to help me move forward in love, peace, and stability.
And now I sit. I sit with God not because I need to through the suffering, but because I want to, and it's the right thing to do. The traumas in my life have always launched me towards Christ full speed. But now things have slowed down, and I have slowed down. There is so much stillness right now. So much silence. And that may not necessarily be a bad thing. I am waiting to see what God is calling me to through this very specific and new time in my life.
God is there through the storms, but He is in the calm too.
He might sound like quiet mornings and a soft breeze. And feel like the hot sun on your back. Other times He might sound like laughter or feel like a hug from a friend or like soft grass beneath your feet.
Maybe we need only to be still. And in that stillness rest in the thought that He is God. The stillness might very well be the biggest blessing yet.
Maybe we don't need to find Him in the calm after all...maybe He IS the calm after the storm.