Today is my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 64 years-old, but unfortunately he passed away at the age of 49. Over the past 16 years I’ve spent considerable amounts of time remembering what my life was like while he was alive, how I miss him now as I hit different milestones (getting married, having kids, pastoring in San Francisco, etc.), and one day what it’ll be like when we’re together again in heaven. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the last decade and a half.
Never play the “What-if” game
This is a dangerous game to play when someone has passed away because you can’t resolve issues with someone who has died and because, well, what’s done is done. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and it’s important to know what we’d do differently in a similar situation or relationship as this is learning, but we simply can’t stay in this state of mind for too long. Why? The longer we replay regrets in our minds beyond simply recognizing them, learning from them, and perhaps asking God for forgiveness from them we’re hindering our effectiveness for the future.
I’ve replayed the moment when my dad was sitting next to me in our home office and then fell off his chair, unconscious due to a heart attack. Why didn’t I respond quicker, why didn’t I think to call an ambulance 30 seconds before I did, why was I frustrated at him in our final moments as we were setting up our new computer. These questions and more plagued my mind for a long time till I realized that they weren’t doing me any good rehashing those questions…they won’t do you any good either. Learn from them, if there’s something to learn, and move on!
Value the relationships you have today
This is a big one. If I’ve learned anything it’s that you can be here one minute and gone the next, time is short so make it count. I FaceTime my mum at least once a week to see how she’s doing because I care about her, but also when she passes (if things play out that way) then I don’t want to have any regrets to have to work through. This goes beyond just family members into friendships with others, interacting with neighbors, and even strangers. Value your relationships today as if it were their last day on earth.
Lean on Hope
When my dad died I was struck with grief and admittedly I am still at various times throughout the years when I do something I think my dad would enjoy like throwing my kids in the air and hearing them giggle. But more than grief as I think about my dad now days I get excited because time is ever moving and each day is a day closer to when I’ll see him again. How can I have such hope? Because the Bible speaks of hope in death…
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.” - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (NLT)
Just as Jesus lay in the grave for three days and as the sun was about to rise on that Sunday morning so is my anticipation when it comes to seeing my dad again soon. A time is coming when our tears will be wiped away and this life will be a distant memory. A time when death will be dead and our hope will come into full bloom.
Happy Birthday Dad!