My dad’s soul left for heaven four months, one day, and about fourteen hours ago and I haven’t dissolved into a pile of nothing yet. I’m more okay than my fear ever let me think was possible. I’ve weathered the scariest thing in my life and imagination better than I expected to because of the “Lesson Learned” God is teaching me right now.
Lesson Learned: The security you found in your dad’s opinion of you was an important part of God’s plan, but not all of God’s plan. The things your dad gave you were a downpayment on the things God, your good Father is giving you now. Your dad carefully stewarded your self-worth and in ways invisible to you, has been carefully handing the baton back to God. More of how you see yourself is currently resting in how God sees you than you realized. This is why you are okay.
God used one of my favorite Psalms to spell this out for me. God’s voice has been especially loud during miscarriages, disappointments, and fears through Psalm 103. I love that he brought me back to this Psalm to quiet my biggest panic moment.
As I brushed my teeth in the adjoining bathroom, I listened to Scott read these familiar words out loud to my sleeping dad. They were familiar but got my attention in a mercifully new way because he read them in different translation than my usual. I hope you read the Psalm in its entirety, but for now, listen to the specific words that calmed my fear.
“As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.”
Ps. 103:11-13 MSG
The love and security I gained from my dad, weren’t evidence of me trusting Dad more than God, they were my first baby steps toward trusting God himself. They were part of how I learned to trust God and see my worth in how he sees me. God’s plan is for earthly fathers to image him as our heavenly father. The way my dad did that for me was a rare gift. God has never been bothered by how much I’ve learned to see myself in my Dad’s eyes, it was part of his plan for me.
“He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.”
Ps. 103:14 MSG
God hasn’t been surprised at all with the wrestling of my heart. In fact, he probably expected it because he never forgets how frail I am and never forgets to provide for my frailties.
“Men and women don’t live very long;
like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
Leaving nothing to show they were here.”
Ps. 103:15-16 MSG
God knew better than I did that I wouldn’t have my dad physically present in my life forever. He’s been planning for me to be okay since death first entered the g
Garden of Eden. This thing I’ve been allowing to bind me with nebulous tendrils of fear, was solved long ago by my heavenly Father.
“God’s love, though, is ever and always,
Eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
As they follow his Covenant ways
And remember to do whatever he said.”
Ps. 103:17-18 MSG
This is the reason I felt more grounded and settled watching my dad leave this earth than I ever dreamed possible. These verses pulled back the veil of my fears and let me see how my Dad and God had linked arms to make me ready to face this very moment. Dad hadn’t just been telling his little girl how valuable she was. He had been telling me how valuable God thinks I am. He spent his life teaching me to trust him and how to transfer that trust onto an eternal God who is the source of everything he had to give me.
So here I am, four months, one day, and about fourteen hours after I faced the biggest fear of my life head-on. I’m not a puddle shaking on the ground. I’m not consumed by sadness and unable to get out of bed. I’m not even crying every day. I’ve laughed a lot these past four months. I’ve smiled and felt a warm glow inside when I’ve encountered pictures or memories of my Dad. I’ve actually felt grounded. The exact opposite of the untethered feeling my fear told me to expect. Psalm 103 cleared the fog and showed me work that had been happening in secret all along the way.
It’s easy to look back and wish I could get back some of the moments I surrendered to fear. They seem wasted and foolish from this vantage point. Instead of regretting, I’m choosing to respect the process. The truth is, I’m very happy with the destination this path led me to. I’ve learned God’s call isn’t only to a destination but also includes in step along the path it takes to get there. So, I’m looking back with clearer eyes but choosing to cherish the steps my story needed to find this precious destination.
Maybe my story can help someone else see a short cut past some of the more meandering portions of the path from fear to settled. That would be cool. But the coolest thing would be for my story to inspire hope in another person’s heart and suggest your fear is not telling you the whole truth. I also hope you hear me say you are stronger than you feel. Strength is often about just putting one foot in front of the other with your heart beating out of your chest before you can see the answers you need. You have to keep on living while you wait for the fog to clear. You have to keep on walking in order to get to the destination at the end of the path with a vantage point that allows you to look back and make sense of it all.
What fear has its hooks deep into you? What thing are you trying to keep in the peripheral vision of your consciousness because you’re afraid to look at it head-on? What are you worried you can’t live through? Admitting it does not give it more power over you, it gives it less.
Speak your fear aloud so you can apply the salve of Psalm 103 to your heart. God is a better father to you than even your most fantastic dreams. He’s crazy about you. But he’s also realistic about you. He knows that you’re fragile. He remembers that he made you from mud and so his father hands are tender with you. He’s put short term solutions in your life to give you something to hang on to now, immediately. Like a good earthly Daddy, a kindred-spirit friend, a church that loves you unconditionally, a sister. But he also sees your future and knows how this sin-cursed world works. He knows you need more and those things are only a bridge to the truest solution for your soul - him. He’s working outside of your current view. He’s doing things you can’t see or feel yet to care for your heart. He is. I promise. Let Psalm 103 be your breath when fear tries to steal it. And let my story be your hope when you wonder if there is more than today’s fear.