On October 4, 2014, I got my kids up and ready for a soccer. My oldest son had a game and we were headed out early to grab my dad and get to the field. He knew we were coming, he had the schedule, and we came every week. I had been trying to call him for 24 hours with no luck getting him and my imagination had me nervous. It wasn’t like my dad to not answer, although it wasn’t even ringing- just going to voicemail. My imagination said worst case….. My sound mind said his phone stopped working. The battery had been refusing to charge off and on for months so surely that is the case.
We arrive to his apartment. I hop out of the car to go get him. My heart is racing. I actually feel sick as I walk to the door. I knock. I wait. I try the handle and the door is unlocked. I yell “dad……dad” I quickly pull the door to and run to the car. “The door is unlocked but he isn’t answering. I can’t go in. I just can’t.” Joel unbuckles and assures me it is going to be ok. I follow him as closely as I can without stepping on his heels. I stop just outside the door and wait. Moments seemed like years. I won’t ever forget the look on my sweet husbands face when he had to say the words I feared. “He’s gone, he died”
The whirlwind of emotion will never leave me, I don’t think. I can recount the moments after he said that and remember the feeling in my heart that hurt so badly. I remember calling to tell my sister…. my brother…. my mom. I remember calling my friend and asking her to come get my kids. Every single detail feels so fresh.
When I finally got home, I drug myself up the stairs and found myself on my knees in the closet, crying. I cried out to God. “Lord please let me wake up! Please do not let this be part of my story. I just don’t want suicide to be part of my story” Broken, hurting, confused, desperate for answers, I felt peace rush over my body. A peace that can only be explained to be the Holy Spirit. I had to look up because I felt it so deeply that I had to make sure my surroundings were the same. In that instant I felt God saying to me “It is ok. You will be better equipped for what I have for you on the other side of this. Your pain will not be wasted. I will use this.” I had no idea how, but I stood up confident and at peace. Still broken, hurting, confused, and desperate for answers, but confident that the peace I felt would get me through the coming weeks, months, and years.
Today, it has been 2.5 years since my dad died. Over the past 2.5 years I haven’t really wondered how or when God was going to use me and honestly I was ok with not knowing. But a few weeks ago, I got an unexpected message from someone I didn’t really know. She wanted to talk to me about the blog I wrote on suicide. I was nervous to talk about it, mostly because I was caught off guard by it- it had been over a year since I posted the blog. I wrote the blog out of obedience- it wasn’t fun. Suicide is a tough subject to bring up because it makes people uncomfortable so it took God prompting me for months before I finally did it.
The weeks leading up to the phone call had been hard for me. I had been in a place of loneliness and I had been wrestling with God- asking Him where He was and begging Him to show up for me. I remember confessing at life group on that Sunday, that I longed for the relationship I had with God during the biggest trials of my life, He felt so present. I wouldn’t want to be back in the trial, but wish the richness of the Holy Spirit was present now.
The conversation started by getting the awkward, I know we don’t really know each other…. out of the way. It quickly followed by explaining she read my blog post on suicide and decided to share it. At the time she wasn’t sure why, but just felt the need to share it. Recently a friend of hers urgently wanted to meet her. During their time together, her friend explained the darkness she found herself in and had decided to take her life. But she saw the blog on Facebook and decided to read it. After reading it, her heart changed and instead of taking her life, she went to rehab to get the help she so desperately needed.
I am listening on the other end, sobbing. I keep hearing God’s promises in my head. I remember days before crying out “where are you?” I remember doubting what he asked me to do years ago when I was seeking His will so intensely “share your life, open and honestly, encourage others”. But Lord, what do I have to give? And as I listened to my new friend talk, I heard Him saying “your story”.
Friends, God is good. He took my brokenness, my words of pain, and he used them to help someone see a different perspective. That is good enough, but he didn’t stop there. He knew I needed reassurance. He knew I needed to see His work, so he was good enough to let me see it. His work happened, He used my pain, even if I didn’t know it, but He let me in on it. He is good like that.
Sometimes I wonder if my story is worth telling. I wonder if my life is worth sharing. The truth is, everyone’s is. Yours doesn’t look like mine. And not everyone will share the way I do, but everyones story is worth telling. Do not underestimate the power of your story.
I have learned that God will fulfill His promises. He will. But we have to be willing to let Him. Let Him use you today- whatever that looks like for you. For me, it means sharing and giving. It means being vulnerable enough to let you all see the not so great parts of my life. It means giving my life to Jesus and praying every day He uses it!
As I proofread my words I realized how much pain there is in reliving the day my dad died. I tried to figure out a way to show God’s goodness in this story without sharing all the pain. The truth is, I can’t. If I take out the pain, there isn’t really a story. Today is Good Friday. The pain surrounding this day is unimaginable and it hurts me when I think of all the pain Jesus endured, but without Friday, there is no Sunday. Without the pain, there is no resurrection. Friends, Jesus paid the ultimate price so he could share Heaven with us. Sometimes we have to share our pain with others, in order to let them see how truly good God is. God didn’t cause my pain, but He was with me through it all and He is using the pain for good!