“Hey dad, didn’t one of your ex-girlfiends die?”
“Huh?” I’m driving and lost in thought as my middle daughter’s question invades the empty space.
“Your ex-grilfriend. Mom told us she died.”
“Oh did she now? Well yes, that’s true, she did die.”
“Didn’t she die of cancer?”
“You seem to already know all the details…why are you asking these questions?”
“Just curious,” she responds with a flip of her hair. I glance at her dark hazel eyes in the mirror and tell by the look on her face the interrogation is not over. Like all women, hearing the story second hand isn’t good enough; she wants every detail, of every thought, from all corners of the room.
I sigh and wait.
“Dad? Were you sad when you found out your ex-girlfriend was dead?”
Toys R Us is not that far away, but it feels like we will never get there.
I pause, “Yes, but I wasn’t sad for me; I was sad for her husband and family. They were very good people.”
“Do you think they were sad?”
“Yes, I’m sure they were devastated.”
“Are you glad you have mom instead of her.”
“Yes, I’m very happy with your mother, she is perfect for me. I love her very much.”
“Did you love the other girl too?”
“As much as someone can convince themselves they love someone at the age of 22. In all seriousness Sweetheart, I can barely remember what she looked like. I’m so filled with love for your mother it makes it impossible for other women, past, present or future to gain access.”
“Why do you think God didn’t allow you to be with her?”
“I can honestly say we just weren’t right for each other. We both loved God and each other but knew it wasn’t right. I also believe that God knew he was going to take her home with cancer the same year that my father killed himself and that I wouldn’t have been able to handle both losses mere months apart. What seemed painful in 1997 would have killed me in 2009. The curse at the time was really a blessing, it just took twelve years to realize that God was saving me and not casting me out. Besides kid, you and your sisters and brother wouldn’t even be here right now if it I hadn’t married your mother,” I tussle her hair as we climb out of the van, “and that would be the saddest of all.”
She laughs, her 10 year-old-girl giggle, and gives me a giant smile as we head into Toys R Us.
I know a lot of you reading this feel disconnected or have lost loved ones over the years, but it doesn’t have to be a curse. Finding my father’s body on New Years’ Eve was truly terrifying, but my wife and I were determined to follow Jesus. He has shown us all the fatherless children that are lost and hurting and need a Savior. A father abandoning you can cause immeasurable pain and without my own scars, I would never have been able to see where the children we work with are coming from.
Jesus promises to never leave you or forsake you.
There are loved ones that have gone before us and it’s easy to lose focus on the task at hand and feel sorry for ourselves.
But the truth is that the dead are no longer in our sphere of influence, it’s those that are lost and dying that we need to focus all our love and attention on.
This holiday take your eyes off yourself and your own problems and back onto Jesus, asking this simple question, “Who needs to see the love of Jesus Christ today? How can I pour myself out for them?”