Friday, February 10, 2017

Grief's Timeline

My father died 14 years ago today. It's a new layer of sad and strange to think that after today, I'll have lived more of my life without him than with him. That makes his death sound like some distant event long forgotten when in fact it's been-- and in some ways continues to be-- the most formative event of my life. 

Time is a kindness and a curse to those who've lost loved ones. It is kind to watch the sun rise day after day and realize that beauty still lives in the wake of grief. But is it also cruel that we are expected to "move on" as if death is just a passing thing.

This morning I was reflecting on time-- from our perspective and from God's. We live in the linear, but He lives in the eternal now. He is the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world: He is past, present and future. I find comfort in this fact because in Him, my father is not a long-lost memory. In Him, my grief is not old or stale. In Him, there is no contradiction between the fourteen-year-old child watching her father be lowered into the ground and the twenty-eight year old woman now holding her own child. He holds all things together, including me.

I also find comfort in the fact that this Eternal God has promised to bring our linear history to a climax by uniting us to Himself. On that Day, the finite will be wed to the Infinite; the perishable will put on the imperishable and even death will be swallowed up in victory. On that day I will see my father again.

But I'm reminded this morning that our glorious future will never invalidate our current pain. I'm reminded that when we see Him face to face, our Infinite Lord will still bear the marks of His own passion. He is past, present and future and He holds all things together.

To myself and to friends who've recently lost loved ones, this morning I say: there is no timeline for grief. You do not need to "graduate" from loss any more than you need to graduate from the love you still have for your departed one. I do pray you find hope in the God whose story can resolve your own, but know that His healing does not mean forgetting. It simply means His holding you together.