There are plenty of people who have endured far worse than me, I am completely aware of that. At the same time, we only know the feeling of what we experience ourselves. Empathy may give us a twinge of the experiences of others, but we can only truly know what an experience is like when we endure it ourselves.
I never thought that I would have lost both of my parents by the time that I was 40 years old. I had dreamed of such a different life for them than what they experienced over the last few years. They had dreamed of a much different life than what they experienced.
While there are many things that I am grieving over, I have been marveling at God’s grace to me during this time. As I waited for the funeral home to come and pick up my father, I stood there thinking not about how bad it sucked (although it does suck pretty badly) but at some of that grace that I felt like I had received. Here are just a few.
1) I had the privilege of being with both of my parents when they passed from this life to the next. That doesn’t happen every day and I know that there are many who were not afforded that same privilege. I am grateful that I was there.
2) I have had the flexibility of a job that has allowed me to work from remote locations over the past two years. Thanks to modern technology, much of what I do as a pastor can be accomplished in “The Cloud.” Anywhere that I can get internet access, I can work. That has been a Godsend.
3) Smartphones. I have felt completely “in touch” with access to email and other things through my phone. I have had so many things at my fingertips that I never would have believed.
4) My aunt and uncle have been the greatest champions of all to my family. They have humbly and quietly served with no desire for accolades or gifts, but what they have done has been nothing less than shining Christ’s love to me and my family. Thank you Audrey and Roy.
5) My wife has been a strong support for me. She has done whatever it is that she can to help me and has not complained. She has put up with my mood swings as I have been grieving for quite some time over both my mom and dad. Her empathy and compassion as well as her counseling background have proved priceless.
6) My children. Holding my little girl as my father’s body was loaded into the funeral home van was comforting. Their smiles and craziness have brought me back to the reality that they are still here and in desperate need of a father to love them, just like my father loved me.
I grieve. I mourn. I am broken. But in the midst of it all, God has still chosen to give me glimpses of His grace in ways that I can hardly believe. I am thankful and grateful, even as I hurt.