Tale of Two Experiences

When was the last time you laughed so hard that you cried? How about those times when you are so overjoyed that you were reduced to tears? If I reflect back on life there are certainly times when I can recall feeling those types of unchecked emotions. Like the days that Oliver and Garrison were born. Or the day that Leann and I got married. What beautiful days those were and how fresh they remain in my mind. Leann and I were 22, and I remember standing at the front of the sanctuary when she stepped into view. Her dad, a wonderful man whom I’m blessed to now call my own, was standing by her side. She wore white of course as most brides do, but she glowed. There were no questions that she and I were to be joined together. I don’t remember seeing anyone else in that building except the kind Pastor that God placed in our lives for such a time. When the new creation was finished (that would be the “one flesh” part of marriage) I felt both euphoric and nauseous.

This sort of describes how many of these days have become. Mother’s Day this past weekend is a good illustration of what I’m talking about. Our family is wonderful and tight. The people are generally compassionate and are quick to help in good times and bad. Yet, as with all families, we’re comprised of people: fallible, imperfect and often times, we’re in need of correction. All of that to say that on Mother’s Day weekend we got to see the Spirit of Reconciliation at work and it was lovely. Second Corinthians 5:17-19, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” A part of our family has been severed for entirely too long. Leann and I were so deeply moved to see steps toward restoration. I was so happy that I cried.

But that’s not all of it. In the midst of the reunion, I had to step out. Leann and I found our way to the cemetery where we sat for a time at Kyleigh’s grave. We learned that this is the way all holidays will be for us. Joyous to celebrate whatever the meaning of the holiday, ok perhaps not Labor or Arbor Day, but terribly saddened that a part of our family is not with us. It was this new combination of emotion that I’m referring, grief and joy at the same moment. Not sequential, as if one moment joy then the next grief. But instantaneously and simultaneously we’re experiencing two quite opposite emotions. It’s unusual for certain, but something we’re now growing accustom.

We’ve felt this same thing at other times as well over these past seven weeks. I was reading comments from my previous post and my heart is warmed when I hear first hand that Kyleigh’s story is influencing others. I want to know that people are changed, lives are changed, relationships restored, as if the course of life and the very essence of who we are is being altered for those that are willing to let down their guards.  At the same time, I hate it.  I hate that it came at such a high cost. I hate that on those unfortunate days when I have to work from the office and someone points out a balloon floating innocently past the 11th floor window and suggests that it’s perhaps one from a release at the cemetery near our building that I’m taken back to our own balloon release for Kyleigh. All productivity stops. I might as well leave the office because I can’t think anything about but her. Thankfully it occurred at the end of the day and that I was able to leave. 

Here’s another one that I thought I knew. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)  Yes!  When I think about the things in life that used to concern me now all I can think is, “how silly.”  I got myself all worked up over what?  Before Kyleigh was born I would often times find myself coming home from the office with terrible headaches; ones that hurt to the core. All I could do was close my eyes and press my temples in an effort to relieve the pain. I noticed that on the days when I worked from home, nada. No headaches, no pain and I know the family was generally happier as I was in a much better mood. Looking at this now I can’t help but wonder why I let that stuff affect me so?  Will I feel the same six months from now? How about six years from now?  What else could I possibly experience that would come remotely close to the trials that I’ve experienced. To be clear, I’m certainly not asking for any further tests. I pray that I live the rest of my days not coming anywhere near anything like this again; yet I must avoid complacency. Jesus doesn’t like lukewarm Christianity (Revelation 3:15).

I get what Paul was saying, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) Yes!  Not that I’m asking to depart this life for something better; hardly, but I’m most certainly not afraid of death as I know that was conquered on the Cross 2000 years ago and it has lost its sting. Listen to James, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

I live in this world, but I am no longer of this world. I am a new creation, being made new daily as I give my life as a sacrifice to others. I’ll not get caught up in the race to acquire more stuff, climb any stupid ladders, join any clubs or pursue anything that would detract my attention from the One who created it all and binds it all together (Colossians 1:16-17). If faith is in fact a gift, then I pray He grant that gift abundantly to all of those who earnestly seek Him. Give it a try…you might be surprised.

~Rodg

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