Things I've Learned Since My Dad Died
Day No. 03 of the 2015 Ten Ideas A Day Challenge.
My dad died four years ago, today. He committed suicide in a motel bathroom fifteen minutes my house. Yesterday, I joined the guys at BadChristian on their podcast and talked through the years leading up to January 07, 2011, and you'll be able to listen to it this coming Monday. This morning, though, I'm scatterbrained and can't focus on much, so I'm trying to hone in on some things that might be helpful for others who have experienced that kind of loss:
- In the wake of tragedy, especially when it comes to faith, you have two options.
- Give God the finger because you have ceased/refused to believe that love cannot transcend tragedy.
- Allow the God who's tragic death transcends all tragedy to love you through yours. (I pray that his grace will keep you through Option #2.)
- God really is a good Father. I never understood his affection for me the way that I began to when I felt his fatherly love in the wake of the loss of my dad's.
- Sometimes, you will wonder if either father ever loved you.
- Loss is a series of stages, and not just one defining moment. It wasn't just when I saw my dad's chemically embalmed, collapsing body at the morgue. It was also yesterday, when my sister moved to Nashville, and I went to my house, and my mom went to hers.
- Holidays will suck for a good long time.
- You can weep. And laugh. And it's okay.
- Life will go on and you will heal.
- That's generally the time when the anger starts, because you won't want it to, or you'll feel guilty and ashamed for being happy again.
- Your parents are wrong about a lot, but they're probably right about whole hell of a lot more than you think they're right about.
- Your parents can be friends. They have lived the life that you are living, thought the thoughts that you are thinking and struggled through the things that you are struggling through. Don't let them die before you learn how to be friends with them.
- The idea of "self-annihilation" as an unforgivable sin that sends all people who kill themselves directly to hell without the opportunity for repentance is an erroneous, damaging theology that does not attribute to God the power and sovereignty and merciful attributes by which he describes himself. It is grace that saves, keeps and takes, and if our eternal salvation is predicated upon our "repenting for every single sin before we die" then no one will be saved because how can anyone possibly get to the bottom of the depth of their sin? It is Jesus' grace, lavishly poured out, that saves. Not the pronunciation of syllables that form repentant words just in the nick of time. (Obviously, I'm passionate about this point.)
- You will not understand and you are promised no answers.
- If you feel like you have the answer, you should probably keep your mouth shut anyway.
- Presence is better than answers.
- Community is absolutely essential. You will want to separate from it. Don't. Allow yourself to be loved and served by those whom are being given the joy of loving and serving you.
- You truly have a savior who sympathizes with your suffering. He is merciful and compassionate. He loves you with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.
- Sometimes you will not believe that is true. You will despair. You will entertain hopelessness and unbelief. There is hope in - and my only hope is in - his faithfulness, even when we are unfaithful.
Below are a few other resources that might be helpful. Things that I wrote in the wake of my dad's death, and others who helped tell the story: