Aug. 24, 2015

Lesser Things

My dad is my guy.

After I grew up, got married and had a couple kids, my dad was still my guy.

He was my go-to for most anything.  Something breaks, he’s who I'd call.  He could fix anything.  Before I got a car with navigation and would get lost he would be my 1st call.  I’d call him and he could tell me exactly where to go to get back in the right direction.  He expected me to call him when I got to my gate at the airport, when I landed and when I checked into the hotel on business trips.  When I was sick he would make sure I had Sprite then would call throughout the day and wake me up to ask if I was getting any rest.  When he sat next to me he held my hand.  Always.  If I ever went more than 3 or 4 days without talking to him I would get a melodramatic voicemail while I was working that said something like, “I guess the only way I can talk to you is if I schedule an appointment.  You don’t love me anymore.  Maybe one day you will find time in your busy schedule to call your dad.” Then would laugh and say, “Just call me when you can.  I don’t need anything.  Bye baby doll.”  He would sing Barry Manilow’s song ‘Mandy’ to me on my birthday.  He loved me.  He made me feel safe. 

Love like that takes some of the sting out of living in this world.

One sunny day in June, he went to the ER with numbness in his arm, some dizziness and a headache he couldn’t shake.  He was diagnosed with brain cancer and was dead 8 months later. 

Life is brief. 

18 months have passed since my Dad died.  I’m no longer consumed by my grief.  I don’t cry every day, every week or even every month.  I can think of him and find comfort in the legacy he left with me.  I’ve adjusted to life without him.  

This morning I dropped off the kids at school then went downtown to run.  Actually it’s mostly a jog.  Who am I kidding, it’s a slow run until I remember that I really suck at running then it’s quickly downgraded to a jog until I approach a big hill, which then gets downgraded yet again and turns into a winded, panting walk sometimes crawl.  The goal is to just make it back to my car before I collapse and embarrass myself.

As I was heading up the big hill at the panting, near collapse part of my walk a song come on my playlist that I don’t remember having put on there.  It was sandwiched in between Lenny Kravitz and Rihanna.  It was a song from a Christian artist, Laura Story, called ‘Blessings’.  I was amused at the irony of the eclectic mix of musical genres, but continued to trudge up the hill without much thought until a lyric from that song created a tsunami of emotions causing my eyes to well with tears. 

The lyric was:

“We pray for blessings, we pray for peace, comfort for family, protection while we sleep.  We pray for healing, for prosperity.  We pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering.  And all the while, you hear each spoken need, yet love us way too much to give us lesser things.”

It may have been pure coincidence that at that moment I was literally running alongside the hospital of the ER where my Dad went.  It could have just so happened that a song like that would pop up in the middle of my playlist.  It could be totally random that the song that popped up contained a lyric that spoke straight to my heart altering the course of my morning.  But I think not. 

I was still about a mile from my car.  By the time I got there, I was a mess.

I had been living with a chip on my shoulder. 

My secret problem, that I really hadn’t even fully admitted to myself, was that despite my faith in God I’ve always wondered why he didn’t answer my prayers during the time that I was losing my Dad.  1 John 5:14 says that we can be confident that when we pray he hears us.  Mark 11:24 even says that whatever you ask for in prayer, to believe and it will be yours.  For 8 months, I prayed that my dad would be healed.  I prayed for the chemo to work right up to the time when it didn’t and then my prayer changed to “please heal him or take him.”

I was kind of quietly pissed about the whole ordeal if I’m being honest. 

I finally made it back to my car.  I got in, pulled up the lyrics and read them several times.  “He loves us way too much to give us lesser things.”  Was my request to him to heal my Dad and keep him here with me a lesser thing? 

Yes, actually, it was. 

My Dad was coming to the end of fulfilling the purpose God had created for his life here on earth.  The problem was that my plan and God’s plan didn’t match up.  It didn’t work for me.  I didn’t like it. 

Thank goodness I’m not in charge. 

I can recall praying for relationships to work out only to later be grateful that they didn’t.  When I was fresh out of college I prayed for a certain job then much later on saw how it would have been a disaster had I gotten it.  I’ve prayed for God to take away the various pressures and stresses of my life, not understanding at the time that he was preparing me for the purpose he had created for me.  That the pressures were often what motivated me to do more, get better and become who I am. 

I’m happy I don’t always get what I want. 

My heavenly father loves me more than my earthly one was capable of and he won’t allow anything lesser for me. 

Even if I don’t like it.  Even if I don’t understand.     

I started a blog on July 8, 2013 to keep everyone current with medical updates with my dad and to help keep all the questions he got to a minimum.  It quickly turned into posts mingled with personal stories about our relationship.  He would call me after a post, sometimes crying, and tell me he read it 10 times.  He’d ask when I’d write another one.  It kept me motivated to produce.  After he died the blog site sent me a beautiful book with a copy of all my posts and everyone’s comments in it as a keepsake.  When I got home this morning, I dug it out and randomly opened it to an entry from November 13, 2013.  On that date I was wrestling with the same issue. 

An excerpt from the post that day reads:

“One day when it’s my turn to leave this earth I think my 1st question to God, when I see him face to face, will be to see the playbook.  I’d love to see the strategy he came up with for each of our lives.  This helps the cheerleader in this situation relax and cheer without it being as burdensome of a task.  I can root for the team and not question the coach.  There is a reason he is the coach.”

Such a good reminder, written with own words, to further douse me in peace this morning.    

Even though I didn’t know it at the time, he did, indeed, love me way too much to give me lesser things.  He loved my Dad too much to give him lesser things.  I still don’t have the answers to why, but I have faith that tells me it was all part of a much grander plan. 

My heavenly father (I picture my Dad standing with him as he did it) choose a time when I was alone and clear minded to infuse wisdom.  It’s amazing really.  He used a mundane Monday morning jog, with girl deep in the middle of jamming to a collection of randomness including the likes of Jay Z to speak to her heart in a way she understood. 

Because he won’t allow lesser things.