Sometimes unexpected things happen, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Loved ones pass away; there isn’t a single thing we can do to bring them back-no matter how hard we try. The thing is, though, that having that knowledge doesn’t stop us from feeling. It doesn’t stop us from missing, crying, questioning. These are the times when words seem to be the most inadequate, when they’ll never amount to what a hug can do for someone. And all I pray for every one of us is that God comes close and holds our hearts while we hold each other.
A member of my church family, Tim, passed away earlier this week. He was kind and good and one of the most genuine hearted people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. His wife, Cyndi, is strong and beautiful and I don’t think there’s been a time that I’ve seen her that she hasn’t called me “pretty girl” and given me a hug. His daughter, Sara, is joyful and free and just as beautiful as her mom. Their whole family so obviously the light of the world.
Deep down, I really am indescribably happy for him. I mean, he got to leave all the sorrow and pain we have here. He’s more alive than he has ever been. He gets to be with God and Jesus for the rest of eternity, and that is honestly the coolest thing in the entire world. I just wish we could all be together all the time, but it doesn’t work that way. I don’t think any of us will ever have the ability to fully understand why or how it works the way it does. I do think there’s beauty in that, though, but I think there’s even more beauty in the hope we have that death isn’t death at all. It’s the way by which we enter the most abundant life we’ll ever know.
I like to think that the time we spend on earth prepares us for the time we spend in Heaven. Whatever we experience while we here, for whatever reason, is what we individually need to experience before we’re ready to be with God. And I like to think that God loves us so much that the moment we’re ready, he can’t wait another moment to have us with him. As soon as we have learned what we’re supposed to learn and taught others what we’re supposed to teach while we’re here, we get to leave the brokenness of the world to be with our Heavenly Father. He doesn’t want to keep us away from him any longer than necessary. We then get to teach people through our absence. I’m always amazed at the wonderful things we can learn from those who have already left us, and I have faith that it all works out perfectly in the end.
Easter was less than a week ago. It’s so important to remember what we learned that day. I can only imagine the pain the disciples felt when Christ died on the cross, but Easter reminds us that our pain does, in fact, turn to joy. It shows us that there is life after death. It teaches us that we can go on without the physical presence of someone because they’re always with us. It gives us so much hope.
The hardest part sometimes is accepting the fact that he got to go while we have to stay. Staying is difficult, but it can be so beautiful if we let it. We get to keep learning and teaching. We laugh and cry and continue on with life as we know it. My mom’s mom died when she was sixteen. No kid should ever have to know the pain of losing a parent, but somehow, in God’s perfect and mysterious way, it all worked out. It made her into the exact person my brothers and I need for a mom. If her mother were still here, she would probably be living far away from us. Since she’s not, she can be with my mom and her sisters all of the time. I hope that as Sara grows up, she always feels her father’s strength and love. I pray that her and Cyndi’s hearts sing with the knowledge that he loves them and is so proud of them. I pray they can go to God and lay all their burdens down. And I pray that their lights continue to shine, leading people to the brightest place of all until they get to be there as well.
So life goes on. People go to be with God. And we stay. Until the day comes when we’re called home and welcomed into the arms of he who loves us more than anyone else. And there we’ll stay… for eternity.