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The Shadow Proves the Sunshine

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

Kaycie and I recently had a conversation about loss - losing a loved one. The thing I think most people don't understand who have never lost someone close to them is how that loss is always with you. It never goes away, and I feel that people think they understand that life is different, but they don't truly get it. It's a shadow that follows you wherever you go and serves as a reminder that your life isn't the same and never will be.

Sure, some days the shadow doesn't loom as large as others. Some days it's faint. Other days it's all encompassing. It is this ebb and flow of emotions and feelings that require your attention. I'm learning the worst possible thing you can do is fight it. It's like trying to fight against a rip current in the ocean, you'll only wear yourself out and find that you're further from shore than when you started and for all your effort you're still being pulled out to sea.

So, what do you do? What do I do?

What do we do with grief, with anger, with resentment, with hurt?

For most of my life I've heard you give those things to Jesus. I've even regurgitated the phrase myself, but if I'm honest, I had no idea what that really meant or looked like. I always pictured it as me boxing up all of my complex emotions and feelings in a container and walking up to Jesus and saying, "Here you go. I don't want this." I would hand over the container to Him and somehow, magically, I would feel warm and sunny inside and clouds would part and birds would begin singing and life would be fixed. I'd walk away from the encounter and everything would be just as idyllic as the felt boards they used in Sunday School to teach us Bible lessons.

If only.

I've come to discover it's a spiritually naive way of addressing heart issues that run deep. I'm learning the painful lesson that that is not how it works and that's not how Jesus desires us to interact with Him. If we needed Him only once when things are difficult, we'd be following a genie in a magic lamp and as I've gotten older, I understand I don't need a wish-granting, Disney-esque being to give me handouts when life falls short of my expectations.

I need a relationship with a Savior.

What does "give it to Jesus" mean? It means every day I speak to Jesus and I let Him know that my heart still hurts because Dad is gone. I ask Him to help heal that hurt and to give me grace that the hurt doesn't lash out in unhealthy ways. I also thank Him for 33 years that I was gifted to look up to an incredible man. I ask Him to help me live in a world without an earthly father, and yet faithfully follow a Heavenly one. I ask him to guide me to be the best father I can be to my own two boys.

This Father's Day will be like last year's Father's Day. It's going to be challenging. It's going to be weird... again. I'm going to reflect on the jokes Dad and I would share and the general geekiness that often defined our times together. I'll smile and more than likely shed some tears. The shadow follows you around and holidays like Father's Day makes the dark specter that much more prominent.

But like the wordsmith Jon Foreman said - the shadow proves the sunshine.

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