I remember going to visit my Dad after we had been estranged from one another's lives for many years...my first thought was of how much he had aged and then seeing him with a prosthetic leg for the very first time. My heart broke for all that he had been through, for all I had missed and for the realization that we could never have those years back. I am thankful for the moments we did have, but always I will miss the ones we never got back.
One day, shortly after he had his second leg amputated I said to him, "Dad, my heart breaks for what you have lost." He looked at me with tears in his eyes, and said, "sometimes when you lose things in your life that break your heart it leads you into something much stronger." He went on to explain in losing his legs, and for awhile losing his relationship with me it had taught him his greatest strength grew out of his greatest weakness. He learned he had to let go of all that he thought he needed to be and all he needed to have in order to develop into a person who could find contentment in even the littlest things in life. My Dad was dealt a very difficult life, but I never heard him complain. He rarely went to church but he had faith in the God who He knew held him in His hands.
I think of my own life and how in the course of my lifetime I have learned and sometimes had to relearn to let God's Word be balm for my soul...I have to let His words, His truth bring the healing that I need at different seasons in my life. Sometimes in order to feel His peace I have to be willing to walk the difficult path, I have to trust that His purposes are greater and to find my rest in Him. My Dad's legs were both amputated...some would say he was a "broken" man, but aren't we all kind of broken? Aren't we all in need of healing in one way or another?
There are things that happened in my Dad's Life, in my life and in the lives of people I love that none of us would have ever chosen, but I believe they sometimes choose us. I used to think, ""God never gives you more than you can handle" was a verse in the Bible. It isn't...what we are promised is that in the trials, He will be with us. Once I was forced to quit a job I loved...a job I had poured my heart and soul into and I thought my heart would be broken forever. I felt like a failure, I was depressed for a bit and one day I realized God had actually protected me from something that could have really been disastrous. He saw what might have been, while I only saw what I felt I needed and wanted.
The lesson served me well because years later it has been a reminder that the one thing made me fall apart actually became a catalyst for something so much better. As a child if I complained about my school work being too difficult or rules that I really didn't want to follow I remember my sweet grandmother saying, "this is your cross to bear for this time in your life." Sometimes, I have learned the Cross we might be carrying is the one that is propelling us towards who and what we need to become. Yes, we will grieve at losses, at suffering, at the unexpected that barrels its way into our lives, but maybe, just maybe, it is part of God's plan...a plan to maybe change us. The hard things in life should lead us to the Cross...where we can lay our burdens down and find ourselves embraced by His unfailing love. The hardest things we go through in life...they can become our greatest gifts.
My Dad found the love of his family ....he was brave and in his bravery he found joy, he found hope and He found hope. He chose to count his blessings and not dwell on the negatives that life had handed him. He didn't dwell on the past or mistakes he had made...he believed with all his heart God would provided what He needed for each day. He turned his suffering into a lesson for me...a lesson to be thankful for what I have and to not obsess over what I do not have at this moment in time. Forever, I will be thankful for the lessons he taught me in his quiet, humble way.