Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happily Ever After

Oh I love a happy ending, don't you?  After all, every fairy tale I have ever read ends with, "and they lived happily ever after."  But, I suppose the key word there is "fairy" in not real life, because if I have learned anything in these 40 plus years I have walked here on earth, it is that life does not always have a "happily ever after" ending.  oh there may be a chapter or two, even more for some of us, but not every chapter ends that way.  I was reminded of this once again last February when my dad turned the last page of his book and passed away.

As a little girl, my daddy had always been my hero, and though he wasn't perfect, you wouldn't have been able to convince me that he was anything but wonderful.  When my nephew was killed back in 1998, I began to see a different person take over where my dad had been.  We still had a decent relationship, but my dad began to change, and then in July of 2007 our relationship took a terrible turn.  That is when my niece came to live with us and things between dad and I got pretty choppy.  My dad blamed me for the things that were happening with my brother, and eventually he stopped talking to me all together.

Of course, I hoped and prayed for reconciliation.  I offered to meet with him and the pastor of his choosing more times than I can even count, but always he refused.  He had a heart attack in 2008 and I thought that this may be our chance for the "happily ever after," but it only deepened the ever growing canyon between us.  Many nights I spent restless and broken at the distance that had come between us, and as I lay awake I began to paint a "happily ever after" picture in my head.  I knew that God desires reconciliation, I knew that I was willing, and that my dad was a professing Christian, so I was convinced that it would happen.  (See 2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

In February of this year, I received news that my dad had been rushed to the hospital.  Once again the hope of reconciliation rose up in me.  Jerry and I went to the hospital, and spent the next week traveling back and forth there.  I sat beside my dad's bed and held his hand, closer than I had been to him in 5 years.  As I sat there I prayed that he would wake up and we could talk through all of the things that had driven a wedge between us.  I played out the conversations in my head, what I would say, what he would say...I was well on my way to that "happily ever after" ending.

As I went to the hospital each day I was faced with many reminders of how unsettled things had become between Dad and I.  Several of my dad's family members treated me unkindly, and one of my dad's friends from his church spoke very unkind words to me, making an already painful situation even more difficult.  (For the full story you can read my March 2012 blog,"I Can't Find My Big Girl Panties..."

Sadly, my dad never did wake up, we never had our chance to talk through the trouble that had grown up between us, and I never got to hear the words I so desperately wanted to hear, "I love you Marla."  The happily ever after never came, and even as I type this almost one year later, my heart is still heavy with the reality of it all.  The visitation and funeral only served as reminders of just how permanent the distance between my dad and I would remain.  I was filled with conflicting emotions of love, anger, and regret.  This was not the way the story was suppose to end!  What happened to "happily ever after?"

As the story unfolded I couldn't help but question, is God a God of "happily ever after" endings or isn't He?  I mean He is in the business of reconciliation, right?  It is why He sent His son to die on the cross for us, so that we could be reconciled to Him.  (Again See 2 Corinthians 5:18-19)  Well, in truth, God is all for "happily ever after" I have read the end of His book, and for those who choose to believe and become followers of Him, the story does indeed end well.  The key is, that God is a gentleman, and He allows us to choose for ourselves.  We will all have to live with the choices we make, and for those of us who choose well, the ending is very happy. The ending to my dad and I's story, may not have been the ending I had hoped for, but the choices we each made resulted in the story being written as it was.

Though I am sad at how the last chapter of our story together ended, I am reminded again of the truth of God's word in Isaiah 40:31, "But those who hope in the Lord, will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles: they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  I am reminded that what I can hope and count on is the Lord.  So often I want to hope in other people, I want to be able to count on this person or that person to fulfill a need I have, but the truth is that people will disappoint us. But God, now that is a different story!  He will NEVER disappoint us, NEVER leave us, NEVER forsake us!

He wants to be the author of our everyday story, and I promise, if we trust in Him, we will indeed live happily ever after!

Comments or Questions?  I would love to hear them!

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