There are moments when I look at the clock, and a certain number has been in the time as I viewed it throughout the day. For instance, I have lately seen lots of 9’s …(8:39, 9:19..2:09…) But one of the times that is stamped in my memory is 2:22. 11 years ago yesterday at 2:22pm, on May 22, 2002, my dad was welcomed into his heavenly mansion to worship the King of Kings for eternity. As my last post reflects, my dad was an amazing father, leader, husband, and friend. He was one of my biggest advocates in life to learn and keep doing better for the sake of helping other better.
A friend of mine recently reminded me of a time she was driving from Tulsa back to Kansas City and a torrential downpour of a storm camped out on that highway her whole drive home. A group of our friends had all been together and we knew she was driving back and we told her we would pray for her. I had a momentarily humorous thought of Dori from Finding Nemo and her “Just keep swimming” phrase. So I texted my friend just to encourage her to press through the storm, don’t lose sight of the end goal, and know that friends are praying. But I didn’t say that. My text read simply.. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” Now my understanding is that my friend began to laugh out loud and nearly sang that the whole way through the rainy, tense, and dark drive back to Kansas City. I am glad to know the moment of clarity and humor that was in my mind translated well to my friend and it helped get her though that time.
Prior to my dad passing, and since then, I have lost far too many friends and relatives. Some of those key losses were my best friend since 6th grade dying in a car accident my senior year of high school, my grand father and grand mother (my dad’s parents) passed away a handful of years apart, my grandmother (mom’s mom) fighting the battle against cancer, my wife’s grandmother fighting the battle against cancer, and my friends dying in a plane crash. These were all between when I was 18 and 32. I have allowed myself to deal with the loss, to truly mourn the loss of a loved one, with the realization that life for them is far better now but we are left to deal with the loss here in our humanness.
I thought about this yesterday and today and how have I “made it through” those hard times. Here are some truths I operate under:
- God is a good god. (Psalm 107:1)
- The devil is the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10a)
- Jesus came that I might have everlasting life. (John 10:10b)
- I will see those loved ones again who also believe in #1-3.
- God places people around to support and encourage. (Prov. 11:14)
- It’s okay to cry…even as a guy…and it’s okay for everyone to miss people.
- Joy..true joy, not happiness, but joy does come in the morning. (Psalm 30:11, Psalm 126:5, Psalm 92:4)
I could make other items on a list, but the point was to have key takeaways so as a reader it can help you. It helps me just to write it again, to see once again what I know. It is different though to know something and to Know something. Head knowledge and heart knowledge are two different things. So, how did I make it through? I just kept swimming. When the waves of memories came all around me and at the moment it did not seem like sunlight was coming…I just kept swimming. And when i did not have any strength to swim any more…I fell in His arms and trusted that He always cares for me and upholds me. And then, once I regained strength through Him, I got back up and kept swimming.
In light of the recent loss of so many lives in the Moore and Shawnee Oklahoma communities, my heart goes out to them for the sudden loss of lives and of safety. I can’t say I have been through that kind of loss. A pet peeve of mine is when people say the cliche “Oh I know how that must be…” Really? NO YOU CAN’T! The only person who knows how they have experienced something..is them! So, let me just say in the midst of the loss, as people surround you and maybe someone you know lives there. (My sister in law was less than 2 miles from where the EF5 hit in Moore) Remember in all things, refer to the list above, and ..Just keep swimming! And if you can’t swim..let the only one who can truly provide peace and strength hold you and carry you through the waters until you can get back out and keep swimming.