Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Beauty from Ashes

Day 11

Ten years ago today, I was 18 years old, eight months pregnant, living in an apartment on campus-3 hours away from my family.  Being so pregnant, I had a hard time sleeping in general, but the night before it was different.  I journaled to try to get to sleep because I felt extremely anxious.  Early in the morning, I had a knock at my door.  I opened the door to my neighbor who had a phone in her hand.  I could see the sadness in her eyes as she passed the phone to me letting me know that my mom was on the other end.

Confused, I answered, knowing something wasn't right.  "Honey, your dad has been killed."

I was shocked, but simply said "I'm on my way."  Being the first child of three, my first thought was to jump into fix-it mode and take care of my brother and sister.  But this wasn't something I could fix.

Someone had taken away my prize.  The brutally butchered the man who inspired me to be a better woman.  She killed my chances of making my dreams come true.  This child resting inside me would never know him.

Years of prayers and perfectionist tendencies aimed at winning the approval of an aimless man finally came to an end.  Tough love and triumph wasn't enough.

It was strange to sit in a room and discuss hobbies, outfits and hairstyles--details that were suddenly important to know.  Thankfully, there were other family members to fill in the gaps.  I listened in order to get to know him more.  The few memories I had of him flashed before me.  My dreams about how life would be after alcohol--once plentiful, seemed irrelevant now.  Once we worked within the state's budget for murder victims to arrange the funeral, we shifted through the next couple of days until the actual funeral ceremony was held.

An exuberant preacher who claimed to try to help my father, made an awkward speech that incensed my brother.  It was a stark contrast to my grandfather's celebration of life that we just held 8 months prior. Then it was put to rest. It was a somber time, but I don't remember feeling much.

Upon my return to my apartment at college, ironically, I received such special treatment from people that I didn't really know. I had a fridge full of meals, baskets full of cards (making up for the years of birthdays without a simple call or card) and beautiful flowers filled my rooms.  This was in addition to my two friends who dropped everything to come with me the day I received that call. That drop everything, sacrificial, agape kind of love I wanted from my father was felt over the coming weeks.

Over the coming months, I would no longer think about Jesus Christ the same way.  After the numbness wore off and the tears began to flow, I would understand an overwhelming peace and love.  One that I didn't know before.  I would be completely dependent on a Savior who could fill my empty heart with an indescribable joy.

Over the coming years, I would go through court proceedings that would teach me more about my career choice than any class could.  After the fresh wounds, I believed becoming an attorney no longer meant being able to uphold justice.  Justice had more to do with pleas and the number of prison beds.  But I wasn't bitter.  I also learned to forgive the woman who shared my birthday, because I had been forgiven and offered a new life & freedom.

Each year on 11/11, I usually write something to reflect on how I feel.  This year, I am thankful that time does heal.  I am also moving on from the idea that I am somehow a victim.  Life is full of loss.  But loss leads to new beginnings.  As I continue to process the loss of the father I imagined and the father that I didn't know, I cherish the terrific father my husband is to my children.

I also can't help but think of the beauty from ashes that my Heavenly Father created during such a desolate, confusing time.  They way he drew near and provided supernatural peace and strength.  It was when my faith came to life in the most tangible way.  I so appreciate His love and faithfulness!

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