So, uh, I don't need to inform you that yesterday was Father's Day. This year, it also happened to be the anniversary of my dad's death. They land on the same day every five or six years, 2001, 2007, and now 2012. (Father's Day also landed on my birthday in 2003 and 2008.) I still haven't quite figured out why, but the years it lands on the anniversary of his death always manage to feel a bit more intense than all of the other years.
I also probably don't need to tell you that I still miss my dad every day of my life. That kind of thing isn't something you ever get over, I don't think.
What's different about this year is that this year is the first year that I've ever had to deal with this anniversary as a real Christian, as someone who truly cares about my relationship with God. With that, I have to deal with some truths. Truths like only those who truly accept God and bring Him into their heart get to go to heaven. Truths like my dad wasn't a Christian when he died, and that means he didn't get to go to heaven.
I think for a long time, I had myself convinced that Dad was in heaven. That's what people told me, that that was where people went when they died. I mean, what else do you tell a kid whose dad died - sorry, kid, your dad's burning in the fiery pits of hell for all eternity and you're never going to see him again? Yeah, uh, no. So I just let myself believe that he was in heaven, because at least that felt happy, and that meant I'd see him again one day.
But I'm not a little kid anymore. I'm 20 years old, and I'm finally pursuing a relationship with God the way I've needed to for so long. I know what God says about heaven and who gets to go there when they die, so the truth that I have to deal with is that my dad...isn't there.
To be perfectly honest, that makes me so angry. Not angry at God, because I, of all people, understand that a relationship with Him is a matter of free will and making the choice. It makes me angry at my dad, angry that he didn't see this, angry that he made that choice after growing up in a Christian home and put himself in a position that meant I would never EVER get the chance to him. I know, it's not like he had any idea he was going to die at 37, but it wouldn't have mattered if he died at 97, I don't want death to be the end. And before I even really got the chance to get to know him in this world, the chance of having a relationship with him at all in eternity was taken away from me. This is the end. I'll never get to experience my dad in a way that I'll actually remember. I don't want to be angry at him because, by all accounts, he was a really good dad and I was his angel, but it was the choice he made that put me here, in a sense.
Coming to terms with the fact that my dad is not in heaven and I will never see him again brings around a whole new set of questions...
If he is in hell (and oh God, it pains me to think about that, let alone say it), can he still see me? Is he still watching me? Will he still be able to send me the love of my life one day (as a friend told me he would, without knowing this fact)? Does he know what's going on with me? Does he know what I've been through? Does he know how much losing him affected my teenage years?
As Michal so bluntly put it the other day, I'm pretty much a new Christian, so this is just another one of the many things I'm trying to figure out. Grappling with the truth about someone you barely knew but loved so much is a really hard thing to deal with. I've been avoiding it. I talked to Taylor this afternoon, and I told him that I was in a good mood even yesterday because I love DC that much. And I DO love DC, but I was avoiding dealing with what my newly found relationship with God has forced me to come to terms with because, well, it SUCKS. It sucks to think that for the rest of eternity I will never really know what kind of father my dad was. It sucks to think that my dad died that painful of a death and is now in infinitely times more pain because of one choice he made. But then again, as a Christian, I know that that is the ULTIMATE choice.
It's just really crappy to deal with. But like I said, this isn't changing my relationship with God. I know that God loves me and is with me, I know that God loves my dad. It hasn't made me question who God is. It's more made me question what His being who He is means for my dad. Because despite the fact that none of my family makes an impact on my destiny to spend forever with God, he's still my dad and I still never got to know him and I still miss him every day.
None of that's new. The only thing that is new is my perspective. Ever since that week in Nashville, I've been finding God and accepting God in every area of my life. I just didn't want to deal with this because it's such a huge part of me. But now, I have to.
God, please, come and heal this pain. I know You took care of my dad, and I know that the choice to not follow You was his to make. I don't want to be angry at him; it's going to get me nowhere. Please, help me find peace with this because it's something I can't change, and I don't want to live the rest of my life struggling with this. I need the peace that only You can give. This doesn't change how much I love my dad, or how much he loved me, I know that. I'm just asking you to come and free me from all of the emotional wounds that losing him caused. You are all that matters in the end, You are the ultimate Father. Keep me focused on you and please, heal my heart of the anger that I feel over this. Help me to rely on You alone.