The past couple of months have been challenging and painful. Besides my travel plans and concerts being canceled indefinitely, I almost lost one of the most important people in my life to a pandemic, and a few friends showed themselves to be fairweather in the process. Yet, through all the letdowns, I’ve learned the importance of the letting go.
The letdown of spending time with people that don’t have my best interest in mind, both in friends and situationships. It’s crazy how we rationalize and even romanticize ‘wasting our time.’ We enjoy other’s company but don’t respect ourselves enough to set healthy boundaries. After months of dead-end companionship, we hurt and get hurt only to weigh down our future with the emotional baggage acquired. I want something real that doesn’t run at the first struggle. Someone special and a close-knit community to ride out the waves of this life with.
This pandemic has removed the unhealthy relationships from my life when I probably wouldn’t have done so otherwise. It hurt, but ripping a band-aid off usually does. And I’m thankful. It has allowed me to reevaluate and focus on what matters and allowed true friendships to strengthen and rise to the top. In this letting go, sometimes you have to learn to forgive even if all the other person can say is “it is what it is.”
The thought of losing my dad to COVID-19 isn’t exactly what I’d call a letdown. I’m not sure how to encapsulate that into one word or phrase. Sitting alone waiting for the next status report as he fought for his life, day after day. Twenty-one days on the vent and a month in ICU. Heavy sedatives and medications causing tremors and seizures. Stats rising and dropping repeatedly. There’s still so much life left to be lived. He is supposed to be there to walk me down the aisle. If I choose to have grandkids, they are supposed to have a grandad to spoil them. Or I simply just need him to be there to answer the phone when I have a question or need to hear his voice. We’re not done yet.
There was a lot of letting go I had to learn. Not that I had any real power in the first place, I had to raise my hands in surrender and truly give my dad’s life to God. It was His all along. I know He has our best interests in mind, whether that means calling us home or keeping us here. I had to get to the point where I trusted God enough to know we would be okay, even if ‘ok’ meant something totally different than what my heart was desperate for (words borrowed from my friend, Jackie). I struggled with the balance of trusting God and hurting when the prognosis was bleak. I knew God had blessed me with more than I could ever ask for, but I still wanted more time. Becca reassured me that it was okay to “feel blessed and robbed at the same time.”
In looking back, the worst day was April 11th. Dad had been teetering between 65 and 100 on the vent for a few days, but this day he had several (of what they thought were) seizures and was maxing it out. We had been told the odds were against us.
April 11th was the day between Good Friday and Easter. On the day between the original Good Friday and Easter Sunday, people questioned where God was. It’s easy to question where God is in this broken world, now riddled with a pandemic. It was easy to ask where God was on April 11th, when my dad was near death. But just as it was back then, it is now. God is near. God is at work. “When it looked like God was doing nothing, He was accomplishing His greatest work- the salvation of many people.” (Passion Sermon 3/30/20)
Whatever outcome, I knew it would be for our good and for His glory. But I prayed earnestly for my dad to stay with us. The entire community did. Hundreds were sharing his status online, praying every hour on the hour, sending prayers to us in the morning, pleading with God in song, and with tears.
I’m not saying that my surrender and prayers changed the course of dad’s sickness, but God sure used dad’s sickness to surrender my heart and change the course of my life. And I’ll go out on a limb to say that it changed others too.
There were still several hard days, full of unknowns and waiting. And we still have a ways to go, but that was the turning point. God was and is near to the brokenhearted. (Ps 34:18) In dad’s COVID case and in whatever you’re dealing with right now. There will be letdowns. In this world, we will have trouble. But we can have peace in the letting go because God has overcome the world. (John 16:33)
His grace is sufficient for us, and His power works best in our weaknesses. Therefore we will boast all the more gladly about our weaknesses so that God’s power can work through us. (2 Cor. 12:9)