Eleven months have passed since that awful day that we had to say goodbye to my dad. So many days I am still overcome by strong emotions and the loss of hoped-for experiences. I am so very thankful for all the wonderful experiences I did have with my dad, and he had with my children and my husband. My joy has shriveled into a tangled mess of hurt, sadness, confusion, and, occasionally, anger. The truth is that when I say I'm okay...I'm not...not entirely. I'm broken...heartbroken. I'm treading water, staying afloat. I put on a brave face and step into the world and live, but the living isn't quite as joyful, not quite as carefree as it once was.
The last two and a half years have been full of challenges, hurts, heartaches, unexplainable craziness. So many are hurt, scared, treading water. They may be experiencing loss, anxiety, fear, confusion, financial troubles, medical concerns, family upheaval. Our prayer list seems to grow weekly, if not daily, with another need of a friend or acquaintance. I need to do the hard things...the things that feel impossible, unachievable, unattainable. I need to move my focus from me to the world around me. My pain is real, it's still raw, yet no one is waiting in line to check on me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not looking for that. However, it would be nice to be seen, to be encouraged in my struggle. Not that I want pat answers and sometimes thoughtless remarks. Those won't help me. How many others feel the way I do? How many others feel unseen, alone, apart, unacknowledged? How many people are going through life right now with a heavy burden weighing them down and no one to walk alongside them, to check on them, to encourage them? I am so thankful for those, in my life, that have shown great consideration for my feelings and concerns. As different landmarks have passed over the last eleven months, kind, considerate, sweet people have sent notes or texts and checked in on me. When Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went. When Father's Day came and went. When my dad's birthday came and went. When my birthday came and went. People have stepped outside of their struggles and kindly taken time to step into mine and check in or send a word of encouragement.
The amazing thing is...it doesn't truly take that much effort or time to say, "How are you today? I know it's a tough one since it's the first Father's Day without your dad." Those words or similar ones are easy to genuinely say to a hurting friend or acquaintance. Dropping a note of encouragement in the mail, or a note to say hi, only takes a few minutes and one stamp. Reach out, people, even in the midst of your own storm or struggle. Sometimes that reaching out may just be the saving, joy-boosting stretch they need to get through another day. Waiting around for others to see and realize your pain will not accomplish anything helpful. If each of us, no matter our current level of hurt or happiness, would simply reach out and share a bit of kindness, a bit of God's love and grace, each day with another we come in contact with, the world would start to look brighter. Light and love can go a long way in penetrating darkness. Oh, dear ones, you are priceless. Those around you, the other creations of our Creator-God, are priceless too. They are made of the same substance as you and me. They are in need of the same things as you and me. They may need rest, comfort, encouragement, laughter, kindness, a meal...whatever it may be, would you consider giving it, bringing it, sharing it? Please do.
A song I've heard many times before was playing on the radio this morning when I was out picking up breakfast. I want to share it with you here. Truth Be Told Please remember there are many people around you who are hurting, and sometimes all it takes is a genuine smile to make their day brighter. My dad had a smile that many people have commented about since his death. Look to my dad...
Always Smile: Just Like My Dad
P.S. Amazingly, the other song that spoke to me this morning was from Matthew West as well. Check it out... What If