On Tuesday, November 26, my father passed away. Although his passing was not altogether unexpected due to his poor health, it did occur earlier than any of us thought it would. As I have grieved his passing, I have also had much time to reflect on the man I called “Daddy.” I have shared in earlier blog posts that for much of my adult life, I have not felt close to my father. After he and my mother divorced, my and his relationship drastically changed, and I had a difficult time coming to terms with the new normal.
However, death has a way of making us reflect and see things in a healthier perspective. It is not a time to focus on the what ifs and what I didn’t have, but rather a time to zoom in on the good things; the special moments and precious memories.
Here are the good things I have chosen to focus on about my Daddy: He loved me; He was always willing to help in any way he could. He worked hard to provide for us and see that our needs were met. He would lie in the floor and let us play with his belly and would playfully wrestle with us. He would sing loudly and confidently about Jesus. He had a hearty laugh, and he was a friendly, outgoing person. He loved sports and enjoyed coaching youth softball. He made sure we went to church regularly and he regularly talked to us about God and Jesus, thereby introducing us to Jesus. He taught us positive life principles: love God, love others, respect people, treat others the way you want to be treated, work hard. He also lovingly disciplined us when we needed it. As his health deteriorated, he still chose to focus on God’s goodness and faithfulness to him. He still took the time to listen to the concerns and problems of others. He still laughed and smiled and loved with all he had in him.
So, at his funeral yesterday, I didn’t grieve as one who was full of guilt and remorse, rather I grieved because I no longer have this man to continue to teach me about life. I will never hear his hearty laugh again or see his smile or hear him say he loves me. But I do have confidence that I will see him again on the other side of eternity. I know that he loved Jesus, and that gives me joy and hope in the midst of my grief.
His passing is showing me that perspective is everything–in my job, in my relationship with God, in my relationship with others, in the midst of life’s challenges and troubles. No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, we always have the power to choose to have the right perspective. Maybe you were deeply hurt by that person? You have the power to choose to forgive and let go of bitterness and anger and resentment that will surely destroy you over time. Maybe you didn’t get the job you desperately wanted? Be thankful for the job you have, even if you have to deal with difficult people. Not getting along with someone? Listen to them, show them respect and and treat them like you would want to be treated. Also, realize that their approval, in the end, doesn’t really matter. God’s approval does. No matter what your circumstances are, you make a choice how you are going to view things. I am so thankful that with dad, and later with my husband, I chose to forgive. I chose to give them grace and understanding. I chose to let go of any and all bitterness, resentment, anger, hatred, etc. and embrace love and forgiveness. I don’t have to carry those heavy weights anymore, and I am extremely grateful for that now that my father has died. I can grieve his death without being weighed down by negative, destructive, and poisonous feelings that hinder healing and moving forward.
I write this post with the sincere hope that you will check yourself. Examine your heart and attitudes. Is there something you have been holding on to that is holding you back? You have the power to let it go. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. It is a daily, minute by minute, hour by hour decision, but you can do it if you commit yourself to it. Life is too short to hold on to anger. It’s too short to allow bitterness and unforgiveness to skew your perspective and destroy you. You are in charge of your thoughts and feelings; they don’t have to control you. Please, for the sake of your mental, spiritual and physical health, choose to love, to forgive, to understand, and let go of grievances and offenses. Choose to embrace freedom!