My father was one of my greatest teachers. He taught me the meaning of sacrifice, the wisdom of reserving judgment and the value of hard work. He didn’t just teach me, he made me. Everything good that I am can in some way be traced to my father and everything good that I am not, is surely due to me missing a lesson.
The last lesson he taught me was on January 1, 1999 when he died suddenly of a massive heart attack at the age of 52. Like most, I started the day with the excitement that comes with the promise, or at the very least hope of a new beginning. The next day would begin with the sadness and despair that one feels when looking for the shore while riding the roughest waves in the darkest night. My daddy was gone…I had lost my way.
On January 1, 1999, I had plans, goals and dreams. On January 2nd, I struggled to find a reason that any of them mattered. It would be an entire year before I could sleep through the night again. Daily, I would wake at around 3 AM and sit in the stillness of my quiet bedroom. I was alone in a way that I had never been before.
Every New Year, I experience the same emotions. The intensity varies, but they are the same. I am excited about what the next twelve months will bring. I look forward to seeing how God will move and what He will do. My heart leaps with the vision of fulfilling my purpose. I await the manifestation of answered prayers.
But the moment will come…it always comes. The moment when my emotions fall off a cliff and take a 1,000-foot drop because I realize that no matter what beautiful things happen to me or for me…He’s not here. My daddy is gone.
When that moment comes, my emotions seem to shatter under the weight of loneliness. Because I know that the man who loved me first, longest and best is gone. I cry tears from the core of my soul. My heart aches with a pain the strongest narcotics can’t silence and I will want to quit. But I will remember what his last lesson taught me, what his life showed me. Regardless of what I face, what is in me is stronger than what is against me. And even when I think I can’t make it. I must go on.
I don’t know where you are this first day of 2016, but I want to tell you that the presence of failure does not mean there is no hope. Just because there is pain, doesn’t mean there isn’t promise. The conditions of your present, don’t determine the status of your future. Some of life’s greatest gifts come wrapped in our lowest and darkest moments.
I will laugh today and I will cry today. I am excited about what will come, but I hurt for what has gone. I miss the man who loved me most, but I’m hopeful for the one who will love me next. I will feel lonely, but I know that I am loved. For a fleeting second, I will feel like giving up, but I won’t. I won’t give up because a purpose-filled life is worth living and no matter how much it hurts…it goes on. And yes, I believe with all that I am and in all that Christ is… it gets better!