Another Chance?

Do you remember hearing stories of the dead brought back to life?

It sounded good to me.

Who doesn’t want another chance at life?

To see people, they love again?

Then I got a different perspective.

Imagine being resurrected. Maybe you are happy. And then you look around and remember your old life and problems and you wonder, "Why oh why did this happen to me?"Imagine being resurrected. Maybe you are happy. And then you look around and remember your old life and problems and you wonder, "Why oh why did this happen to me?"Imagine being resurrected. Maybe you are happy. And then you look around and remember your old life and problems and you wonder, "Why oh why did this happen to me?"Imagine being resurrected. Maybe you are happy. And then you look around and remember your old life and problems and you wonder, "Why oh why did this happen to me?"Imagine having another Chance?

 

When my step father got colon cancer and was dying, I drove across the country to be with him. Helping care for him and encourage him during his final days.

He was walking when I arrived. Super skinny but getting around.

Day by day he got weaker. His body shutting down.

He progressed to a cane. Then a wheelchair.

After about 2 months, he knew it was getting close and called the whole family in to gather around his hospital bed in the living room. He blessed us, asked for forgiveness for past wrongs, and told us good bye.

A day or two later he went into a coma.

Hospice told us that he would not come out of the coma. Slowly his body would shut down and he would die in a week or so.

We were pretty somber. We knew this day would come, but now it was here.

We tip-toed and spoke softly at first. Then we carried on at a normal sound level because hospice said it would comfort him to hear us.

After a few hours he woke up.

It was like a resurrection.

We were all so happy. Telling him hi. Asking if he needed anything.

But it became apparent he was not happy.

It felt strange. He had been so positive, kind, and full of love this whole time he had been slowly wasting away, but tonight he was in a downright bad mood.

I didn’t know what to think. I thought he would be happy to see us again.

My step dad asked a friend, who happened to be visiting, to wheel him into the next room. They talked for a while. My step father also answered some email.

He was calmer when he came back to bed.

In a quiet voice he told me what had happened.

“When I last closed my eyes,” he said, “I was prepared to die. I fully expected the next time I opened my eyes I would be before Jesus. And then I open my eyes and here I am. Still on earth. In my old body.”

I was quiet. This wasn’t what I had expected him to say.

“I didn’t really want to see this world again,” he continued. “It has no more appeal for me.”

I had noticed how as he got closer to death this world had weighed heavier on him. He saw sin more clearly and it bothered him. Old TV shows he had watched in the past, he now wanted turned off because he didn’t like the message they were portraying about life and people.

We had been in the store one day and the suggestive magazine covers had upset him. “Women don’t have to look like that to get approval,” he had said. “They are already loved.”

For him, the world had lost his glamor. It’s appeal. He saw it groaning for its creator’s return more fully than the rest of us.

He went to sleep again. This time he never woke up.

I imagine the great joy he experienced when he saw his Lord’s face.

 Imagine being resurrected. Maybe you are happy. And then you look around and remember your old life and problems and you wonder, "Why oh why did this happen to me?"Imagine being resurrected. Maybe you are happy. And then you look around and remember your old life and problems and you wonder, "Why oh why did this happen to me?"

Perspectives change

 

When I was a teen, I hoped the end of the world would not arrive before I grew up and got married. I didn’t want to miss out on any of the good things in life or on things that others had already gotten to experience.

In my naivety, I wasn’t even sure heaven had anything over this beautiful world.

The years passed. I saw death. Trials hit me. Trials hit friends. Friends lost babies. Friends died. I heard about the news and sadness going on all over the world. Saw poverty. Read about heartbreak. Experienced heartbreak.

Over the years my prayer to stay in this world and enjoy all it has to offer has changed into “thy kingdom come.”

This world is such a mixture of good and bad. Sad and happy. Beautiful and ugly. Sin and goodness.

If I had died in my younger days, I would have had my hand raised and waving to be sent back to earth. Now I am not so sure. I see my step father’s perspective a little clearer.

Imagine being resurrected. Maybe you are happy. And then you look around and remember your old life and problems and you wonder, "Why oh why did this happen to me?"Imagine being resurrected?

 

Experiences of life color our perspective.

It had been a hard week. One of crying with a friend over her tragic loss.

The pastor was talking about Peter bringing Tabitha, a woman who had a heart for helping the poor, back to life.  “The verse mentions that her friends were over joyed when she was resurrected.”

“Imagine if you had been there, you would have been rejoicing too. Happy to see your friends again. Knowing the work, she had started, would be continued.”

“Can you imagine what Tabitha felt?” she pastor asked.

I thought about how my step dad felt when he awoke again.

“Disappointed,” I muttered. “Upset.”

“What?” my husband whispered. “What did you say?”

“Never mind,” I say.

But I wonder. Was she happy to be back? To Keep working? To return to this world and all her old problems?

Or was she secretly a little angry and wishing her friends had let her stay where she was? A much better place than here.

And what about all the people who came back to life after Jesus died? It talks about the tombs opening and saints returning.

Were they full of mixed emotions?

Some delighted and kissing the ground?

A few shaking their head and asking, “Why, oh why, did I have to return back here?”

I imagine one woman returning to her family and getting hugged by her little ones and kissed by her husband. She touches all their faces and smiles.

Shares a few laughs with her loved ones.

She looks around the house and with a sinking heart realizes nothing has been done since her absence a few weeks ago. Time to get to work, she sighs.

And then the littlest one pipes up. “Mom. What’s for dinner?”

Imagine being resurrected. Maybe you are happy. And then you look around and remember your old life and problems and you wonder, "Why oh why did this happen to me?"

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 


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Join the discussion: What would your thoughts be on returning to life?  

Imagine being resurrected. Maybe you are happy. And then you look around and remember your old life and problems and you wonder, "Why oh why did this happen to me?"May link up at Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Imagine being resurrected. Maybe you are happy. And then you look around and remember your old life and problems and you wonder, "Why oh why did this happen to me?"
Imagine being resurrected. Maybe you are happy. And then you look around and remember your old life and problems and you wonder, "Why oh why did this happen to me?" #faith #choices

Does Happily Ever After Really Exist?

happilyeverafter8We grow up on “Happily Ever After.”

The book ends happy. The movie ending makes us sigh with contentment.

The boy and girl get together. The mystery is solved. A hero is born. The up and down conflict resolved. Now the characters can proceed with life and live Happily Ever After.

It was near the beginning years of our marriage, and I was pacing back and forth in the mother’s room at church with a newborn. Life was rosy and bright and we riding into the sunset of Happily Ever After.

The visiting pastor was talking about life and I was half listening. “Have you been tested yet?” he asked. “Gone through hard times? Losses that ache deep and test your soul and strength? Has life lost some of the luster because of something that has happened to you or a loved one?”

I perked up my ears.

“Because if you haven’t yet, it’s coming. No one gets through life unscathed. Without battle wounds and experiencing some hard times.”

Yikes! This didn’t sound like good news. I patted my daughter’s back and paced some more.

happilyeverafter3 happilyeverafter4“Sometimes we look at others and it appears they have lived a charmed life, but no one has. Dig deeper into their past and perfectly seeming life and you will learn they have experienced hard times. They have lost loved ones, fallen on hard times, found their heart wrenched in two.”

“Many of you know what I am talking about. And others of you who so far have lived a live free of some tragedy. For those in the last category, just know a time will come and life will take the wrong twist and hardship will come.”

I smelled my daughter’s head. Problems seemed far away.

I probably landed in the last category. So far I had battled being picked last for kickball and all other sports, losing my grandfathers, not having enough of the right clothes, occasional pimples, the insecurity and doubt of growing up different from others, bad hair days, never being part of the in-crowd, entering the working world, not achieving my dream of becoming a gymnast or ballerina, being denied access to our church college because I was homeschooled, planning a wedding on a shoestring, dating and early marriage, morning sickness and natural birth, and the common dips and lows of growing up in a sheltered home and surviving to adulthood. There was no one thing I could call my Wall of Jericho.

“I don’t want to scare you,” he continued. “But those in the last category just know that in the future you will be tried. So, don’t be caught unaware and think you are the only one who has ever been caught in the waves of life and battered. Remain calm. Hold to God’s truth and your faith, and know that you will emerge from the other side and join the rest of humanity who knows what you are going through and has survived.”

I snuggled the baby closer to my neck and grabbed her a little harder.

“That’s me,” I thought. “My soul has not yet been wrenched apart.”

happilyeverafter1And then church was over and people were oohing and ahhing over our daughter.

I never heard another sermon like that again, but once in a while his words resurface and I feel comfort and know that what I am experiencing is only part of this journey of life.

Our life does not stop at that Happily Ever After point like in the movies – when we marry, have a child, get a dream job, finish a vacation, graduate from college, solve a tough problem, retire, or receive the applause.

No. Time keeps marching forward and bills arrive, babies get colic, jobs get lost, divorce occurs, arguments happen, loved ones die, pets get sick, cars break down, flights are delayed, parents age, someone else gets chosen, cancer visits, friends pull away, houses flood, children make bad decisions, economies tank, and dreams slowly die as we wait year after year for them to happen.

On the outside, we may look happy and perfect and all put together, but look closely and most of us have scars and nicks and deep gouges from living because we live in a world where the decisions of others and our self affect the future and the here and now. We live in a world where chance and accidents and bad things happen. We live in a world where sin plays with cause and effect.

happilyeverafter2Over the years I remembered the pastor’s words many times. When my parents divorce; when my husband is rear ended and develops neck problems that will remain for the rest of his life; when I am rear ended; when a school bus turns in our lane and send my husband, daughter, and I are in the hospital for weeks and we struggle to recover for years; while I spend the last 8 weeks of my step father’s life helping care for him as he dies cell by cell from cancer; when my youngest brother is addicted to drugs for years; when I care for my sister after a motorcycle accident; when my brother dies unexpectedly; when I try for years to get pregnant and don’t; when my dad dies unexpectedly.

And each time I remember the pastor’s words I know I am not alone in my trial or hardship. I know God is there beside me. Helping me. And I also know that I am going through a necessary hard part of life that everyone experiences.

Everyone has nicks and scars if they live very long. We have all experienced pain. Yours may come from different events and situations than mine, but we both have them. Or will in the future.   

happilyeverafter6 happilyeverafter7

No, there is no Happily Ever After. Not in this life.

Good times and hard times interweave themselves into our life, making us who we are, forging us into tougher and better people who carry more love and compassion in our hearts. They toughen our faith, expand our love, increase our grace, and soften our judgements. They also make the good times shine a little brighter and be more treasured.

But the good news is that Happily Ever After does exist. In the next life there will be no more tears, disappointments, death, accidents, unfulfilled dreams. or sin. Finally, we will then be living our Happily Ever After.


Join the Discussion: What are some hard times you have gone through? Do you think everyone has difficult things to traverse in their life?

Related Post: How to Handle the Hard No and Life’s Disappointments

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Linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); Holly Barrett (#testimonytuesday); Purposeful Faith (#RaRAlinkup), and Holly Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart)

Letter to My Brother

Because in July I think of you a little more

lettertobrotherpictureI was six when you were born. With you as a baby, I wanted to be a big girl and help mom. One day I asked to take a nap with you. We were lying on the playroom floor and you peed on me and the blankets. This dimmed some of the romance of having a baby brother.

You were like an only child. You weren’t close enough in age with us three older kids, nor the two youngest. So you learned to entertain and challenge yourself. You would put on your running shorts and jump over cardboard boxes you stacked at one end of the living room. If you succeeded, the pile was raised a bit. Run and jump. Run and jump. Jumping boy, we called you. Sometimes you talked me into joining you. You were too darn cute to say no to.

You loved hats. You had a cowboy hat, Daniel Boone coonskin hat, and a fireman’s hat. Uncle Dick came over once and put on one of your hats and sat on your small trike you rode through the kitchen and living room. Of course his legs went over the handlebars, while yours went under. You laughed so hard when you saw him and then asked him to do more.

LettertoBrother6Once I saved my money and took you to a movie. It was just the two of us. We got to the mall early and wandered up and down. Then for a snack we bought some bulk trail mix. Then when I counted my money to buy the tickets, I was 10 cents short. We wandered the mall searching the floor for a dime or two nickels. We didn’t even find a penny. What to do? We couldn’t get tickets to the movie and mom wasn’t picking us up for another 2 hours. Finally, minutes before the movie began, I walked back to the small shop where I had bought the trail mix and asked the employee if we could return ten cents worth of nuts so we could go to the movies. He looked a bit puzzled until I explained with an embarrassed face that we were a dime short of our movie tickets. He took the bag and weighed out ten cents worth, maybe half a bite, and then handed us a dime. We skedaddled, bought our tickets, and only dared laugh about it when we were safely in the darkened theater.

LettertoBrother1As I was leaving our church’s youth group, you were joining. You were on the basketball team and not a very good player that first year, but you practiced and practiced and became one of the star players. Day after day you would bounce the ball and shot in our gravel driveway. You also watched a lot of basketball games on TV, studying them. You had determination and patience to get what you wanted.

As a teenager and you were tall and so skinny, like the rest of us, but you wanted some muscles. Ingenuity, that is what you had. You claimed all the logs delivered for fire wood as your own and sawed and chopped all that wood by hand to develop muscles. We didn’t have a weight set or the money to buy one, so you made your own. You started lifting cinder blocks, one on each end of a thick rod. These were your barbells. Muscles developed and your neck thickened.

You developed a sense of humor as you matured. You could tell dry, dull stories that soon had everyone laughing and clutching their gut. You and another brother loved to play off one another and could keep us in stitches for a long time. I have precious memories of laughing in your presence.

You were a groomsman at Curtis’s and my wedding. I remember you smiling above your peach tuxedo tie nipping in your white starched shirt, greeting and seating guests, cracking jokes at the reception, and hugging me good-by.

After our honeymoon, you helped Curtis pack up all my worldly goods and drive them to our apartment in Seattle. I have a picture of you and Curtis screwing together the chairs and table of our dining room set. You are lying on the floor looking up at the camera, turning bolts into seat bottoms.

You lived with us while attending college and had the appetite of several of us put together. I never had leftovers in my refrigerator for long. Then you graduated, we moved, and now we were living half a continent away.

LettertoBrother5Our last visit together you were helping me bag pruned tree limbs for my mother-in-law. You rode over on your bike (the one you sometimes rode 100 miles on weekends) and we worked and caught up. We were both adults now, in the thick of living. You were no longer my little brother, but an equal.

You were one of those persons who if I didn’t see for a long time, when we finally met again it was like no time had passed. We talked and laughed and you gave me some wise advice. That was one thing you were known for. You never ran off at the mouth, but would sit back and study the situation or person before commenting one way or the other. You asked questions to get the person to see the truth for themselves.

LettertoBrother3A year later on July 25, 2012, the phone rang in the middle of the night, screeching us slowly awake. My sister solemnly told me you had died at work. A heart attack. And we sobbed. For the loss. The suddenness. The longing to see you again so great it was suffocating. You were only 41 years old. So vibrant and full of life. No indication of anything wrong. No health problems or concerns.

I had heard of primordial sobs, but never experienced them. Until you died, and suddenly they were bursting forth from my throat, chocking my breathing, rattling my ears with their anger and grief.

How does an older sister deal with the wounds of a younger brother dying? With the scar that one carries deep in her soul forever? Suddenly the world seems more fragile and I feel much older.

Letter to brother quoteTime marches forward and I think of you in odd moments. Hear your voice occasionally in my mind saying something wise or funny. I see you in a photo, and my heart stops. My eyes tear. I remember a memory and you are part of it. A snippet of the past, never part of the present.

You prepared me in a way for dad’s passing four years later. I now knew the ache I felt would never really go totally away. But I did smile when a sibling said that now you weren’t so lonely with dad there. That you two were probably having a good old fashioned gab fest and catching up.

Brendan, I always loved to hug you. You knew how to give great hugs, enveloping the person in your strong arms and whispering into their hair, “How are you?” or “Good to see you.” Or at the end of the visit, “Take care of yourself.

LettertoBrother2There are many things I miss about you. Two are your laughter and humor. The other are your hugs.  And one more is your care and concern for others.

But I know as sure as the sun rises and sets that one day we will see each other again. I hope we meet in a sunny field with a boulder nearby for us to sit on and catch up on. For we will have a lot of catching up to do. But before we start to talk, I want a good long hug and you whispering in my hair, “Good to see you Theresa, good to see you.”

 

Join the Discussion: How do you remember loved ones who have passed? What are some favorite things or memories you remember about them?