Some days I just sit back in total awe at the amazing transformation that God made in my life...in my heart.
God is infamous for doing the impossible and making miracles happen. For me, that miracle came in the form of being broken and stripped to the core...so much so that I was able to finally surrender all the fears that held me back in certain areas of my heart. Although it wasn't in the way that I hoped (on my dad's deathbed)...healing came. And I found peace and resolve. Finally.
As I mentioned before, I spent years on and off in therapy throughout my life. I knew for some time that I struggled with anxiety, but I just never knew to the extent and the "why" behind it.
I struggled a lot in my relationships with men too. Growing up, I wanted so desperately to fix my dad. I wanted to take away his pain, and I wanted to feel loved and accepted by him through his pain. Even when he was there physically, it didn't always feel like he was there emotionally. He had his issues that held him back from experiencing real happiness and intimacy in this life...issues that broke my heart for him, and subsequently affected me and how I responded to the opposite sex and my relationships with them.
I was always afraid in my relationships...I feared not getting what I wanted in the timline I wanted (this isn't solely because of my dad. I have just experienced much heartbreak and divorces of parents). I also struggled with abandonment issues. So much so that I dated men who were emotional reflections of my dad. Subconsciously, I knew there were parts of my heart that needed healing, and since I couldn't seem to work through my issues with my dad directly, I sought men out that needed saving and and unsuccessfully tried to heal my heart that way. If I could receive the validation from men that I never got from dad, that would be ok right?
Let me just stop here for a moment...even if God had not been so gracious as to allow healing with my dad on his deathbed, I still would have recevied healing in my heart through Christ. He is enough. His salvation and love are enough. I always have and always will continue to believe that.
And so, time went on. I eventually made peace with myself and told myself that I wouldn't date guys for the purposes of a) working through my issues with my dad, or b) for the sake of being with someone to fulfill a timeline I once had. Both reasons were me wanting to maintain some level of control in my life in that area. But I was at peace with giving up control. I surrenedered it to God. I learned to even be content to not ever truly date again if I was going to enter into it for the "wrong" reasons.
And then Jared came into my life in September of 2016. Well, technically he came into my life sometime back in 2012, but neither of us had any real interest in the other at the time.
But something about him felt so intriguing, and I was actually kind of waiting for him to ask me out when he did.
My dad was set to start another round of chemo the week of mine and Jared's first date, so Jared asked if I needed a raincheck. In my head, I was like, "Are you kidding?? I waited for a month or so for you to ask me out, and I will not under any circumstances reschedule!" On the outside, I was like, "I'm still up to going out!"
So we went out. I enjoyed myself. I definitely wanted to go out again. But there was still that weight of my dad being sick...the restlessness that came with it. Not knowing. And the weight of unresolve.
Then one Saturday, just 7 weeks after mine and Jared's first date, my dad was admitted to the hospital for the last time. My dad always said that if he ever got admitted to the hospital again, that he would be going to the hospital to die. He knew. And so did I. But I went on another date with Jared that night anyway despite the stress. Things felt right with him, and I felt better being around him.
The following day, which was a Sunday, began the time with my dad that I waited my whole life for. Time spent without fear or wondering what things should have been like for us. Time that I could spend totally in the present with my dad...fully present. Time where I could be emotionally vulnerable without fear of being hurt. Because I was hurting. My heart ached for him every second I spent at his bedside. But I felt a peace that only God could bring. A trust in God and vulnerability that only being so broken by someone else's suffering could bring.
I can't tell you what it's like to meet with hospice and have them tell you that your 50 year old dad only has weeks to live...nor can I tell you what it is like to have your dad's oncologist tell you the following day that he only has days left.
After his doctor left the room, after telling my dad to sign the hospice paperwork, I just sat at my dad's bedside, and for the first time in my life I cried in front of him without feeling guilty. I put my head down on his lap and cried. Something I had not done since I was a litte girl. He put his arm around me and told me that he was sorry for all the crap that he put me through. His only regret was that he wished he could have spent more time with me through the years. And for the first time, I told him that I forgave him. For years, I wanted so badly to tell my dad that I forgave him whenever he apologized. But it never felt right. He was usually drinking and emotional. If I forgave him, I wanted it to be honest and sincere in both of our hearts. A moment I envisioned, but never thought would happen. And then, in that moment, less than 12 hours before my dad took his last breath, it happened.
I was finally free from any unresolve that I felt in my heart with my dad. I also felt that freedom of knowing that I didn't need to psychologically work through my issues with my dad with the men in my life, since I had actually worked through them with my dad directly. It was a beautiful feeling that I don't even have words for. It is still a beautiful thing. God's gift to me...another one of the greatest and most precious gifts I have ever received in my lifetime. Peace. Comfort. Wholeness. Everything that God already is. And everything that He has ever wanted for me to experience. Everything He wants for us all to experience.
Even though Jared and I had only had a few dates before the passing of my father, he stood by me. I would have actually understood if he didn't want to. I even thought about telling him not to for fear of burdening him. But I let him. If he wanted to be there for me, I would let him.
As I move further away from the last time I saw my dad, I am moving forward with Jared. The projects around his home keep us busy. Even the day to day things like drinking coffee in the mornings are a beautiful thing for me. I have never in my life experienced such tremendous loss, but simultaneously so much joy. As I am grieving and healing, my life in some ways has never been sweeter.
I really can't put words to it. Just try and imagine receiving something you always wanted, but never thought you would actually get. For me, I received 2 things that are both so interconnected to one another. I received healing with my dad and was given an opportunity to forgive him. I also have been given an amazing opportunity to have a healthy relationship with a man who brings so much love and joy into my life. But I never would have been able to experience the latter to its fullest had I not experienced the resolve with my dad; the resolve my heart needed to really move forward in grace and love.
So just how great is God's love for us? I don't have an answer to that...just that I know that it is infiintely vast and wide...incomprehensible. And though this life is just a small fraction of eternity, and this season of my life is an even smaller fraction...through it I have experienced God's grace abundantly and continue to.
As I write this, I am totally at peace...savoring the quiet, warmth, and steady rhythm of the rocking chair I'm sitting on...reminding myself of all the ways that my life is a reflection that miracles happen and hearts can heal. And to that, I say Amen.