Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Storms and Faith

This package from my Dad-in-law was waiting for me on a particularly bad day in September. It was on or near the first anniversary of my friend's death, and that along with some other things in life were adding up to make me feel very sad. I couldn't imagine what on earth he would be sending to me, but when I opened it up, my whole day turned around. Of course, he had no idea the day I'd be having when he mailed it, or what it would mean to me to see it...Nor could I have had any idea when I opened it that, in a couple of days, my Dad-in-law would be suddenly taken away from us.

I'll never forget walking in the bedroom that early Sunday morning, rallying the pup to pounce on Mac to wake him up, only to find him already awake and to suddenly know something - everything - was wrong. I hate that moment. Even still, I struggle to wrap my mind around the reality of it. That rock became somehow precious to me. How was it possible he could be gone just days after it had come? How was it possible just a month earlier we were driving with him through my favorite place on earth where my sister found it and declared, "A rock shaped like Montana!"? Honestly, I still don't know.

When we got home from driving to Montana for our best attempt to say good-bye...these were the first words I could write:

My Dad-in-law passed away suddenly in Montana on Sunday, September 23, 2012, and nothing has been the same since. It is strange, sad...and maybe hopeful, too...the way one person can change the landscape of life so much. I miss that man. I miss him for my own reasons - for the now, for the future I just assumed we all had together, and for the sweet memories of the past that brought us together - from driving through Glacier and being on the lake a mere 6 weeks or so ago, to the first morning we met at Paul's Pancake Parlor, and the tough-but-sweet, early-married days in his house that would soon follow.

And I miss him in Mike. There is a part of me that fears a part of him has died and will never come back to life. A part that fears our marriage will go up in smoke and vanish into thin air as if it all never happened. I don't exactly know why I feel this way. I suppose it's because from the moment we got that awful phone call early Sunday morning, I knew I wasn't strong enough for this.

We talked about faith on Thursday night, the night my mom and I got into town after 3 days of driving back from Montana and leaving Mike behind...not knowing when he'd join me. I said it's something I could go along thinking I have until something comes along that makes me KNOW that I don't. This is that something. I assumed my faith was strong because I go to church and read my Bible, even love my Bible. But faith is utterly different...vastly higher and deeper than all that we do on the outside (and yet it shows up - or the lack of it - in everything we do or don't do).

God, this hurts so much and I do not understand. I'm angry and sad that my husband should lose both parents so young. And I'm afraid. Afraid for us and afraid of losing Mike too soon also. I'm suddenly on a boat in the middle of the sea and You've called me to come out to You across the waters, and for all the stories I've read, and sermons I've heard, and songs I've sung to You...for the life of me, I can't.

That morning, I read Paul's words to Timothy: "Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you." (I Tim 6:12) So I just keep fighting. And I do hold tightly to that promise of eternal life, one where death can't hurt us and keep us apart from each other. I don't know what these words mean to anyone, if anything. But if you're out there and you're in that same boat in the storm, I pray you find the courage to fight for true faith and hold tightly to hope, too.

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