All things for good (on 8 years without my Father)

Today marks 8 years since I lost my Dad, and I hate it.

I hate everything about it.

I hate looking at the landscape of our lives and not seeing him there.  I see his fingerprints all over the place, but those joyful eyes behind the paint speckled glasses?  They’re nowhere to be found.

Somedays I can’t believe he’s gone and others I struggle to remember what it was like to have a Dad at all, a Dad to call with tears or mortgage questions.

I tell the kids about him sometimes, but mostly they’re too young to understand. I tell Caedmon that he has his Grandpa’s middle name and I tell Noelle that she has a nose just like her Grandma’s.

I tell them: “I had a mommy and daddy too and they’re in heaven with Jesus and they love us all very much.”

Some people may see 8 years of grieving my Father and think: “Wow, she’s still not over it?” To those people I say this: “When you lose a parent, you’re never truly over it, there is always a unfilled gap, which is okay.”

And somedays that void takes the form of a lump in my throat, sometimes it causes my eyes to tear up because I just want my Daddy.  Somedays don’t we all?   And on those days when I need my Dad but can’t have him I ache on a cellular level.

I want to revert back to calling his cell phone and listening to his voice mail message over and over again.

“His this is Dave, please leave a message.” 

I stil remember the inflection of every word.

Somehow, shortly after he died it was put upon me to design and purchase my Dad’s headstone. I knew nothing about headstones, all I knew is that I wanted it to look as little like a headstone as possible.  Nothing grey, no block letters, I just couldn’t go there.

So I selected a glossy black granite headstone, neat and close to the ground.  I found a moonlight scene with loons and had it etched all over the front, my Dad’s favorite birds, tranquil and serene, the centerpiece of the whole thing.

When I ran it all by my mom, she asked me if we could etch Romans 8:28 on the back of it. I don’t remember thinking much about it at the time but the more I look back on this request, the more I see it as an absolute gift from God.

for our good.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ~Romans 8:28

All this?  For his Glory?

A few months after my Father’s passing I remember having a rare raw and emotional talk with my Mom. On that night she told me: “I don’t believe the saying “God never gives you more than you can handle” I think he does, I think he did it to me.”

She didn’t talk about her feelings very often, she didn’t talk much at all to be honest with you, so for her to trust me with those words was powerful.

And because I was young and stupid I said something to the effect of “that’s heretical.”  At that point I still thought that those words were in the Bible.   They’re not, not anywhere…  Go ahead and look, I’ll wait.  

Now I believe those words are dangerous dribble because we so very often have more than we can handle don’t we?  I’m not sure If God gives it or doesn’t prevent it, or what.  I’m done trying to figure that one out for now.

Whatever God’s involvement in the arrival of our situations I do firmly cling to the words of Romans 8:28.  He is working every detail for our good, and our true good always brings his glory.  Every time.

So did he take my father and cause my mother to walk in front of a train?  I don’t think so. I think it was the sin-sickness curse, the one we all live under.  We’ve been warned from the beginning, we will suffer, we will grow sick, we will die.

It’s a guarantee and one day we will all have to come to terms with it’s awful reality.  And on those days we will wonder why death happened to us.  We will be angry and terrified and completely unsure how we will ever piece our world back together together.

On those days, in our anger and confusion God hurts alongside us.  On those days may we cling to the knowledge that he will work it for good, he didn’t send it to our door, but he will work it for good.

  • BrennaDA

    Love you. Today and always.

    • Leanne Penny

      Love you right back. today and always 😉

  • Jane Visser Brown

    Thinking and praying for you today! Thank you for your blog, too. Your words are always such a blessing.

    • Leanne Penny

      Thank you Jane.

  • Kat Morrissette

    Of course God gives us more than we can handle. He heaps it onto us and then tells us, “Stop trying to handle it. Let me.”
    This is a beautiful post. Thank you.

    • Leanne Penny

      I want that quote tattooed on my arm, I’m so forgetful.

  • EstherEmery

    We do so often have more than we can handle! I think the whole thing is more than we can handle, from start to finish, and sometimes we just get away with thinking we can handle it. That’s a thought, anyway. I do get a little dramatic, though. Love this post.

    • Leanne Penny

      I agree a thousand percent, no drama involved. I get the most depressed and stressed out when I am trying to handle it all myself.

  • fiona lynne

    This is such an important post, especially for those who grieve. Frequently in this world, people find they have more pain and hurt and hardship than they can handle. Grief is not something I think I want to be able to “handle”. Someone said to me in the midst of my grief that rather, our sorrow is not wasted, that Gid can amazingly redeem the darkest night. That was a bigger comfort to me.

    • Leanne Penny

      Absolutely, God redeeming the darkness is my greatest comfort in grief. Well that and the fact that God has conquered death and that we don’t mourn like those with no hope. We have hope baby!

  • Stacy A

    I always get so angry when I hear that “God won’t give us more than we can handle …” crap. You’re totally right, it’s not Biblical! People have taken “God won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle” verse and turned it to their own ends. A loving God wouldn’t give us more than we could handle, right? WRONG. He DOES allow things into our lives that go beyond our ability to cope with … on our own. That’s why we have Him, to help us through those events, those days, those seasons. And yes, He uses it all to refine us into the people we’re supposed to be in Him. Thank you so much for posting this, Leanne. I hate that it takes suffering to show us this truth, but I’m so glad to know there are others who understand the fallacy of the saying, and the beautiful truth of what it obscures.

    • Leanne Penny

      Absolutely, I want to stop believing that I can handle this life on my own. I live it out and yet say I don’t believe it and it only gets me into a deep pit.

  • Mark Allman

    I do not ever want to “get over” those I love; those I hold dear; the bad or the good. I want to cling to the good and sit with the bad for they deserve a place in my heart and soul forever. I want to ache for the ones I love; I want them to ache for me. Those scars of love will remain forever and I would have it no other way.

    • Leanne Penny