Monday, July 04, 2011

"learn from this" (thankful #2 of 50)

we celebrated w's life together yesterday. not surprisingly, it was a full house over at phantom lake elementary, where we gathered in the afternoon after morning worship. w was a beloved figure and one that a ton of people wanted to celebrate. before the service, the room was bustling with activity as the hospitality and sound folks prepared their respective areas, while the rest of us enjoyed the displays of photos for the different periods of w's life -- from way back when she was first adopted, through high school, to her life as a career woman who fell in love with and married husband d, and then through their own process of adopting baby j. what a joy to see w rafting, scuba diving, skiing, and running; she was apparently quite the athlete! during most of the relatively brief season i knew her, she really wasn't able to enjoy those things, as her body weakened and finally betrayed her.

the service itself was wonderful -- an excellent time of worshiping God and remembering a dear friend. i know she must've been happy with that; i don't think she'd be too happy if it had been all about her, as her earthly life was not that way. friend after friend got up to give tender, heartfelt, delightful testimony to the ways that God had worked in and through w's life to touch them. j got her turn as well, sharing her own list of simple, touching memories -- mostly of things she did with her mom. but the creme de la creme was d's sharing of the ways that God had spoken to him during this season; his word to all of us was the word that the Lord had given to him: learn from this.

the death of a loved one is a time of grieving, but it is also a time of second-guessing and regrets. what if her diet had been different? what if we had gone with a different doctor/treatment? what if we had made a different choice at some critical point? and why didn't i respond differently that time...? what if, what if, what if? the genius of God's word to d and to all of us is that it pulls us out of the miry pit of the past (where nothing can be changed) and squarely into the present, with an eye to the future. there is no 'do over' -- only a chance to do differently, and with God's help, to do better.

i'm thankful that there is still time. it's not too late to learn, not too late to love, not too late for God to work in our lives. but that's certainly easier said than done. in the aftermath of w's passing to glory, i tried to have a conversation with m about how we're doing -- tried being the operative word. the good news is that we've been trying to be intentional about growing our marriage and after all of these years (coming up on anniversary 24 this year), there is still desire for and commitment to better partnership, more encouragement, and a higher level of intimacy and support. nevertheless, our communication was fraught with difficulties; is it really normal to have a hard discussion about how we can love each other better?!! i was grateful for the chance to have the conversation, but reminded, once again, that i have miles to go before i sleep. thankfully, Someone Bigger is on the job.

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