Hold nothing back

*Before I start this blog post I first need to preference it by saying, please don’t comment on this one. I don’t want to sound rude but the words I am about to say need no comment. They need no encouragement. And more than anything, I want these words to ring in your ears and your hearts for as long as possible. I want them to linger for days, maybe even years. I want them to settle on your hearts like a ton of bricks that can’t be lifted until some action is taken. And more than anything, I want them to shred you. I want them to be burned on your heart for as long as you can stand to leave them there.*

Almost two years ago, on March 14th, 2011, my Dad died suddenly from an automobile accident. Actually, those words seem empty as I write them because it was much more than that – a distracted bus driver flew through a red light and slammed into the side of my Dad’s car. No, I wasn’t there. No, I didn’t see anything. And I no, I wasn’t even in the same state. Not even close.

Today my dad would have been 58.

I’ve been chewing on that thought all day. I have been inhaling my shock that the grief has come so late. I tried to start the day without thinking about it but no matter how hard I tried, the thought wouldn’t leave me. He would have been 58.

So finally, at the end of the day, when all is silent in my world – when all I can do is sit alone on my couch and think back over the years – one thought snares me. “I missed so much”.

I missed embracing his hugs without fear of what others might have thought.

I missed sitting at his feet and absorbing all the wisdom and truth he exuded.

I missed laughing at all of his corny jokes just because it made him smile.

I missed saying “I love you” every chance I got.

I missed being there.

Really, the list could go on forever… but I think you get the point. I look back at all the pictures others had with my dad and I think, I missed that because I was more concerned about living my life to the fullest. But really, that is not what life is about.

Our world has tricked us into thinking carpe diem, seize the day. But not for the sake of others, for the sake of ourselves. We are so blinded by what we want, what we hope for, what we would fight for, that we miss it completely:

It’s not about us.

When we think like that we look back over our lives and think, I’ve missed so much. 

So instead of wallowing in self pity and continuing this vicious cycle of me, me, me, I want to embrace everything my Dad never said but tried so hard to teach me. I want to reach deeper into my relationship with him and see how everything my dad did pointed me to our loving God and Creator. So hold tight because it isn’t as complicated or as self focused as it seems.

Love others deeply. Love others passionately. Give of yourself for others. But more importantly, give of yourself for God. Love God deeply. Love God passionately. Love God fiercely. Hold nothing back.

I’m not sure you have absorbed that fully so I’ll say it one more time.

Love others deeply. Love others passionately. Give of yourself for others. But more importantly, give of yourself for God. Love God deeply. Love God passionately. Love God fiercely. Hold nothing back.

Please do not over complicate this. It is as simple as that. My Dad’s whole life exuded this and it would be like ignoring who he was completely to not come away with that.

I remember when I was growing up, everything my dad would do was completely selfless. He would go camping with my family just because he loved us. (And for any of you who knew my dad, this was no little task. I’m pretty sure he’d pack toilet paper instead of anything else.) He loved my Mom with a passion that nobody could ever deny. He worked in free clinics in his free time. He volunteered as a youth leader at my youth group for my class, starting specifically working with freshmen boys. But he didn’t stop at youth group, our home became those guys safety in many different ways. And I know, he loved them fiercely like he would his own sons. He mentored other men. He retired from his job so he could volunteer with Bible Study Fellowship (before he even had a thought of having a job there). He flew out of his way to be with his friends, no matter what was going on in there lives. He stopped to help people who had nothing to their name. He gave everything he had.

Once we were at a gas station in Arizona filling up before heading to church when a man, who was clearly high on something, walked up to him asking for money so that he could “fill up his gas tank”. I remember looking around and not seeing a car nearby then looking back at my dad who graciously handed him more than what it would have taken to fill up this so called car. Then he proceeded to ask him if he would like to join us at church that morning. The man said he’d think about it and walked away. A few minutes later my dad got into the car and started to drive off. Immediately I asked him why he would do such a thing. Why in the world would he give a man, who was clearly as high as a kite, money to “fill up his tank”.

My dad said something in return that I will never forget, “Laura, who am I to decide for God how that man will use that money. I have no idea what he will use it for, probably alcohol, maybe even drugs… But what if 5, 10 or 15 years down the road he decides to walk through those church doors? What if his life is changed completely because I had faith that our God will do more with that money than I ever will know?”

And with that the conversation was over. We went to church. Then he left to go home to Texas.

I write all of that not because I want to say what a great man God made him to be. I don’t need to write that because all of you, no matter how much or little you knew him, know he was one of a kind.

No… I don’t want to take away from what he was doing…

I say all of those things because my Dad loved more fiercely than anyone I have ever known. He did that because he loved God more fiercely than anyone I have ever known. And he did that because God loved him more fiercely that any love he had ever known.

And that’s the point that my dad was trying to make without saying it. That is the point he lived his life fighting to get across.

So, as what would have been his 58th birthday comes to a close, I can finally say that I get it. I can finally see him in the way that God had been wanting me to see him my whole life. Can you?

… I have one ask of all of you have dared to sit through this blog post. Not for me, not for my family, and not even for my Dad… but for the One my Dad was living for:

Love others deeply. Love others passionately. Give of yourself for others. But more importantly, give of yourself for God. Love God deeply. Love God passionately. Love God fiercely. Hold nothing back.

Happy 58th Birthday Daddy! I’m sure that you are sitting at God’s feet, worshiping Him with all of your heart just like you did here on earth. You truly got it.

Thank you, Dad, for loving us in such a real way!

Thank you, Dad, for loving us in such a real way!

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