Thursday, June 23

Joy for Mourning

I just finished reading the book Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs. It was an incredible read that I would highly recommend to any young woman.  There were many moments throughout the book that spoke to me.  You know those moments that are so meaningful you tap and hold your finger down to start the process of highlighting it?  Ah, the generation of Kindle users...  Yeah, those kind of moments.
Today I finished and it wasn't until after reading her Epilogue that I started to cry.   For reasons unbeknownst to me, I have recently been uber struggling with emotions in regards to missing my dad.  It could be that Father's Day recently passed, or just that I am immersed in time spent with my own children right now and it makes me think of moments I shared with him. Whatever the reason, the emotions have bubbled up from the depths of my "safe place" where I had given them to the Lord years ago.  

In her book she writes about looking for all of the lovely things that live in the ordinary all around us.  This is something I think we all try to do when we are feeling optimistic and happy... It's not until we are in the valley that we stray from this way of thinking.  This life was not meant to be all sunshine and rainbows.  The bible says in 1 Peter 2:21 "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."  There are many times in the bible that tell us, we WILL suffer.  Looking back on my life, there have been more moments than I care to dig up where suffering was at it's worst.
The suicide of my dad was a defining moment in my life.  If you've read this blog for very long you've watched me journey through it all.  I'm not that private of a person and sharing my thoughts and emotions through writing has been a form of therapy for me.  Looking back on the darkness that clouded my life in the months after his death I am amazed that I made it to where I am writing this today.  I am by no means a finished product, just like Annie Downs I am unfinished, but I am loved.  I may not have my daddy here in the flesh to tell me he loves me or that he is proud of me.  I know he would be.  But I have the ONE Father that truly matters.  My Heavenly Father who CHOSE me.   
I write this today to encourage you.  We all walk through dark valleys.  We live in a world corrupted with sin and darkness, how could we not find suffering?  There is a bright beacon of light that shines for those who seek it, however.  The light that promises us hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future." Christ died so that we COULD have that hope.  We could have the promise of life everlasting where there will be no more suffering and no more tears.  Oh how I long to be surrounded by the faces of angels as that promise becomes a reality.  
Annie talks about singing a song to God through each season of our lives and boy do I know the power that comes from music.  She references the song We Dance by Bethel Music in her epilogue so of course I looked it up.  It's one I had heard before, but the bridge caught my attention, and this is where the tears started to flow; 
And I will lock eyes with the One who's ransomed me, the One who gave me joy for mourning. 
And I will lock eyes with the One who's chosen me, the One who set my feet to dancing.
Yeah... Looking back I can see how God sustained me, lifted me into a season of joy with the birth of our two precious babes (both born on the 14th, the date my dad took his own life), and how He continues to hold and sustain me as I walk through this season of change I am currently in.  He gave me joy for mourning.  
So while I have peace and this beautiful promise of hope, it is still okay to be sad.  I realize this.  Random fits of silent crying and breath that hitches in your throat as you hold back a sob during a Father's Day video at church are totally understandable.  He was my daddy and I miss him.  And for right now, I will relish this emotion that has surfaced, cry the tears I need to cry, and continue to run to my Father in Heaven who sustains me through each of life's valleys.  I pray this for you, too dear friend.

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