And in the middle of a winter solstice, when the world is coldest and darkest, God sends Himself, His Son, in the form of a tiny infant to be a light, partake in our suffering, and bring salvation for mankind.
Wow. I heard these thoughts by Kirk Cameron on Christmas morning during a TV special, as I was crying on my mom's shoulder thinking about how much my dad loved Christmas, and how much I missed him. How much I still miss him.
But then the mourning instantly turned to praise as I reflected on what that very morning represents for all of humanity. The day when Christ came--the day when Love came down. The day that the Jews spent centuries preparing and waiting for. And after 400 years of silence (the time between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament), Jesus comes. He comes to us fully God and fully man, from the womb of a virgin, a teenager, who was scrutinized for carrying a child outside of marriage. God loved us so much that he made Himself man to join us in our brokenness. To join in the brokenness His own mother must have felt when the people who knew her were not able to understand the significance of what was happening. He came to us in unique circumstances to spread a message of love and truth. To spread a message of hope.
Christ came to comfort us in our weakness. He felt what we felt, so He was also able to fully empathize with us in our suffering.
When I think of the events that transpired the evening my dad passed away, I think about how much Christ loves us. My dad, lying in a hospital bed as weak and helpless as he was, down to 113 lbs, was a living representation of humanity. He represented the reason Christ came. He represented the fragility and weakness inside all of us that can only be made whole through Christ.
Myself and my family, we represented Christ in those final and precious moments. We loved without condition. We cried. We held him, fearing the thought of ever letting go. And I think that is exactly how Christ loves us, but even so much more than that. He weeps when we weep, He joins us in our praise and holds us and lifts us up in our suffering.
It is amazing how partaking in the raw experience of being present with someone in their deep suffering draws out this whole other side of you. Any earthly conditions leave, and you feel nothing but unconditional love for that person. The amazing thing is that the love and salvation Christ offers is not conditional. Not even for a moment. Salvation is freely given to those who accept Him as our Savior. He invites us in and draws us towards a life of eternity with Him, every moment of every day. Life is a series of us taking steps towards heaven. Each day we get closer and closer. And that is a beautiful thing.
I started writing the beginning of what I thought was going to be a book about my journey of faith and healing. Instead, I will post it here as my first blog post.
“But the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6
I felt motivated to begin writing about my journey in faith and healing shortly after my father passed away, just shy of his 51st birthday.
I have dealt with a lot in the past 26 years...specifically in terms of my relationship with my dad. The wounds with him ran deep, and for most of my life. So much so that my dad spent years apologizing to me for all the things he had done and put me through. He always said he didn’t want to go to his grave feeling like I was upset with him and thinking he didn’t love me. And to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I ever would have the courage to tell him I forgave him. To me, forgiveness meant vulnerability, and I wasn’t sure if I could let my heart go there with him.
But because of the therapy I received in my life at various points, my faith, and the immense support from people, particularly my mentor, Leslie, I was able to help comfort my dad as his soul transitioned from this life to the next. I was able to sit at his bedside, hold his hand, and remind him of how much I forgave him...telling him that he could let go whenever he wanted. I was able to take care of him, ask questions to his nurses, and wipe blood off his mouth as he struggled to breathe his last breaths. All these things hurt and traumatized me, yet gave me so much reason to praise God. I had finally been healed and made whole. This wholeness evident in my selflessness and vulnerability. I had finally been freed of the deep wounds that had bound me to a life of fear and questioning.
Because of my vulnerability in my dad’s final hours and moments, I realized that every step I took in my life to gain healing, wholeness, and work towards the forgiveness of my father was worth it. It all led to and prepared me for the 3 days I spent at his bedside at Troy Beaumont Hospital (the place where he faithfully worked as a nurse for 17 years and where I worked for 8). Waiting. Watching. Praying. Loving. It meant having a deep and safe level of closeness and self-sacrificial love for him for the very first, and very last, time on this side of Heaven.
I don't know the direction in which this blog is going to go--only that I felt led to begin writing and sharing my thoughts with everyone.
Going through 13 months of watching my dad slowly whither away from the effects of stage 4 pancreatic cancer came with its fair share of disheartening and discouraging moments. What gave me courage and hope though was reading about other people's journeys of faith through suffering...if they could get through it and continue to draw near to God in the process, then surely I could/can too. Writing will not only help my soul to heal from the trauma of watching a parent pass on from this life to the next in such a terrible way, but it will also be my way of giving back and bringing hope to other people--the hope and promise that God is not outside of our suffering, but right there in it with us...comforting and restoring along the way. And in my life, that is exactly what He did.