Jump Start # 2947
Ecclesiastes 3:4 “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
Here in these series of couplets Solomon paints for us what is commonly called the “Seasons of life.” A negative is placed along side a positive. Opposites are looked at. In our verse today, it’s weeping and laughing, along with mourning and dancing. We like the positives and we dread the negatives. No one likes to mourn. It takes us places that are often hard to get out of.
And, this takes us to our Jump Start today. It will soon be ten months since my dad passed away. There was a lot of emotions leading up to his death and funeral. Saying goodbye for the last time and seeing that casket lid close was tough. Preaching his funeral was hard. We’ve gone through the dividing up of his estate, the selling of his house and putting grass seed on his grave. Life goes on. I’ve been everywhere this year preaching. I’ve had some very special and unique occasions, such as preaching at the old Cane Ridge log building and preaching with my son, Jordan, at Wolf Creek. It’s been a busy season.
Our passage came to my mind recently. There is a time. A time when weeping and mourning is what needs to be done. A time to reflect. A time for such things. But how long? Months after the funeral, how does one know how they are doing? How rare it is for others to check in, even friends. Maybe they don’t know what to say, which is so true. Maybe they feel if they say anything, it’s like picking a scab and the wound bleeds again. They don’t want to do that. Aside from grief counseling and books devoted to that topic, we don’t talk much about this. You won’t sit in a Bible class about this topic. Preachers have better things to preach about.
Within our congregation, we have had so many in the past couple of years, who have buried parents. I’m one of them. Recovery, what’s the process? I don’t know if I am in the place to say, but I thought I’d share some personal thoughts with the hopes that it will help others on this same journey.
First, even months later, the tears sometimes flow. They are as I am writing this. The pain is less, but yet, there are tears. Most times, the tears flow when I’m by myself.
Second, there are things that likely will help the healing go faster and there are things that will prolong the healing. I’m leaned a bit too much to the prolonging part. I guess part of me just doesn’t want to close that book. When it’s the last parent to go, there is something that you just want to hold on to. I have a copy of dad on both of my desks, at home and at the office. I see his picture every day. When I’m working I often listen to the type of music that he liked. In some ways this may be picking scabs off, but it’s something that I want to do. I have found being busy, really busy, helps. Wearing yourself out in things that has to be done allows you to sleep better and it fills your mind as you go about the day. Preaching in so many places this year has been a good therapy for me. Being around so many people has been good. Worship has helped. Isolation is not good.
Third, mourning and grief is a journey and each person travels that road at different paces. Some seem to get along much faster than others. Don’t compare. There isn’t a magical date in which one ought to be “over” these things. In some ways, a person is never over it. The hurt heals and one can function well again, but there are times when things trigger a “time of mourning.” There has been a couple of things this year that I would have loved to share with dad. He would have loved to hear about Cane Ridge. He’d been so happy to know that Jordan and I were preaching together at Wolf Creek. I can’t share those with him. But I have found others that I can share those moments with.
Fourth, faith has made such a difference. Knowing that dad is just “in the other room” and being cared for by the Lord not only brings a peace to me, but it reminds me that the story, his story, our story, isn’t over. I’m sorry for those who have no faith. I’m sorry for those whose hope is only in this life. The closing of the grave ends the story in their hearts. But we know better. We know what the Lord teaches. The more loved ones that you have on the other side, the less this world sparkles and glitters for you.
How are you doing, someone asks. You smile. You tell them, “Ok.” And, you are. You are ok, because life goes on. You are ok, because others need you. You are ok because there are things the Lord needs you to do. You are ok because you realize that the Lord has been with you on this journey. You’ll get through this and somehow you’ll be an example to others around you. You’re ok because of precious memories. You’re ok because you are Heaven Bound and you know how this story will end someday. It’s not the cemetery, but it’s in the presence of God.
Do I miss my dad? Certainly. Immensely. He is where he has always wanted to be. He is where I want to be. Not all days are sunshine, which is good. All sunshine makes a barren desert. Rainy days allows things to grow. It allows me to grow. It has taught me that even months after a funeral, some are still on the journey of grief. Don’t’ forget them. Don’t think because you have gotten back to life that they have as well. Find that person that you can talk to and do just that. Not everyone wants to hear. Not everyone cares. And, if you can’t find that person, reach out to me. Hand in hand with the Lord things will get better.
You will smile again. You will laugh again. And, maybe, just maybe, through this process, you’ll be a better and stronger believer. This is a journey that no one wants to take, but most of us have to. You can be the worse because of this or you can be the better. The journey you can not change, but what it does to you, is up to you.
Thank you for allowing me to share my heart with you.