Saturday, June 28, 2014

Unfamiliar Paths~The Beauty of Suffering

We don't simply arrive alone at the point at which we can say, 'suffering is beautiful'~ No. We must first be carried there.

Never begin with an apology because people lose interest. That's fine. But I'm sorry that my thoughts might seem so scattered and I am as yet feeling so raw about the following that I can only say I hope it's helpful. And if nothing else it will be relatively short so not much of your time will be wasted. That's good right?

There is a deep pain in my heart that I never would have asked for and certainly wouldn't wish on anyone else. At least I thought so. I'm not going to pretend and say that everything suddenly, "got better," because in many ways nothing is particularly better and, if anything, things even seem a bit worse than before.  What I can say with confidence is what I say about Our Lord and this, He is good~ He is love~ He is merciful~ this is enough.

Nearly a month ago my father died. He was 82 and in, "tip-top" condition, physically.  My sisters and I had been betting that he would live beyond 100 and he likely would have.  His downfall was the dementia that slowly wound him down and slowly pulled him away from us. It began with gradual loss of the ability to speak~ then reasoning went~ then motor functions~ then he was gone. I'm not one to say that, "this shouldn't have happened" and surprisingly (due to the grace of God) I've never had a moment where I've even felt like God was absent. On the contrary, I have been closer to our Lord and far more confident in His love for me than probably ever before.  I've not even really thought to ask Him, "Why?" Because I frankly know He knows the answer and I'll likely know soon enough or I never really needed to know anyway.  I have come more face to face, however, with my own faults, weakness, pride, intensity etc...because I have asked God, "What is this all for?" and "What do you want for me to see in these circumstances?" He is still leading.

The real gift of this entire experience is to come to the realization that suffering is beautiful.  There were some rough moments at my dad's bedside that I still carry with me.  Moments that if they ever depart from me I will be surprised.  He was dying and death is not beautiful. Death is the enemy. I was carried to the point that I could not handle~ that I could never handle and that was to the point of watching my dear father die while holding my hand. It is an agony that I am sure Our Blessed Mother felt at the foot of the cross. Of course in my experience it was not a crucifixion, however, it felt like one. I came face to face with my helplessness to help the man who had helped me on countless occasions. He had helped me know Our Lord...he had shown such love for God and for other people through his peaceful example...and here I was watching him groan and slowly waste away.  Medical science was powerless.  We knew that it was only a matter of time.

This is beautiful? Yes. Because if I had not been carried to this point I would have never gone there.  I never would have seen the Lord in this way.  I have experienced plenty of tragedy in my life but for me this one was especially terrible for me.  My mom died in 2007 and this brought back all the feelings of loss and, frankly, doubled them. All will face heartbreak, but what you do with this heartbreak makes all the difference.

This is beautiful because Our Lord has continually shown Himself faithful. He will draw near to you as He has drawn near to me. I have witnessed the wake that a true man of God can leave behind him. Because, my Dad would say if he were able, "It is not my love for God that has amounted to anything worthwhile, no, it is His love for me that has made all the difference."  The beauty of all of this is where this is all is to Our Lord. He is faithful. So when you're facing down your own endless waves of suffering you can know, without a doubt, He will carry you through~ just ask and ask and don't stop asking.

My Dad with my kids