I started crying in Walmart the other day. Something I did not expect.
It was just a quick trip in for a few things. I was almost finished when I looked up, and for a split second I felt a thousand emotions flooding my heart.
I saw an older man approaching.
His hair. His shirt. His shorts. Even his shoes. In that split second I thought it was my dad. I couldn’t look away. I wanted it to be my dad. I even walked closer. Almost hoping. My brain knew my dad was gone, but my heart wanted it to be him so badly that it fooled my brain into thinking it could be.
In one split second.
And then the emotions flooded me with the reality that it wasn’t and the tears came. I quickly turned down an aisle to hide my hurt~
but even now, several hours later I can feel its tug, and the tears keep returning.
It was so real to me.
My dad has been gone for almost three years and yet, out of the blue the grief will hit. A place. A smell. A song. A memory. I’m transported to childhood memories. The waves of it all will crash over me and my heart yearns to step back in time and relive the beautiful moments I had with him.
That’s what grief feels like when you love deeply, but even more important~ that’s what it feels like to BE loved deeply.
Grief is a road with many turns. It has been unexpectedly hard for me. I thought I was mentally prepared, I had already lost my mom and experienced that heartache. But dad’s home going hit me differently. Nostalgia visits often. Unexpected tears are frequent and frustration over the comments people make has been politely hidden away. Comments like “You should be thankful for the time you had, and the memories you made”.
When grieving moments hit me, I couldn’t find the thankfulness in the reminders.
Somehow, at some point my grief had been wrapped up inside the arms of Jesus and transformed into genuine, beautiful thankfulness.
That’s what Jesus does.
I realized as I stood on my dad’s porch that my heart felt a true joy and happiness, and I was so incredibly thankful.
And now when I think back to my moment in Walmart, I know why.
I was thankful because I was loved so deeply. What a beautiful gift God gave me. That hurt that runs so deep, that longing to see my dad again, the tears and the memories the smells and the places, all of these are a byproduct of being loved deeply.
Does this realization make the pain go away? No, but it somehow makes it easier. And it makes me thankful. A year ago I don’t think I could have said the same. I didn’t want to be thankful for “what was”.
I just wanted my dad back.
I won’t tell you how to grieve. No one should. It’s a journey all your own.
But I will tell you this.
Grieve with God.
Despite what others thought of my grieving process, despite being told how I should feel, despite feeling alone and misunderstood, God knew. God understood. He never left my side. He allowed me to grieve in my own way as I leaned fully into Him and asked over and over if He would wrap his arms of peace and comfort around my tired, hurting heart.
As crazy as I must sound, I wanted to run toward that man in Walmart. It is unreal what the pain of grief can do to us. And that made me think of heaven. Entering glory. Knowing the love I have for those who have gone on before me, but more importantly~ knowing how much I was loved BY them.
And there is no greater love than the love of Jesus. Not only will I get to run and hug my mom and dad. I get to hug Jesus.
With joy, He endured the pain of the cross because He loves me so much. Because He loves you so much. And because He endured that pain, our pain is only temporary. We will one day be united with our loved ones again. All those who have put their faith and trust in Him. The Bible tells me that one day, because of God’s love and redemption, when I take my last breath I will immediately be in the presence of Jesus.
In one split second.
What a difference a second came make.
Today, I can smile through the tears. I can laugh with joy. God entered into my grief with me, and as much as I miss my dad, the gift of being loved is one of the greatest gifts God has blessed us with. I will hold on to that gift and cherish it, and my heart will be filled with thankful praise.