On our first anniversary we dined at the Stinky Rose, a restaurant in Los Angeles specializing in an array of food selections somehow incorporating garlic. I cried. The understanding of my sadness lay beyond my ability to label. I shared a romantic dinner with the man of my dreams, celebrating one year as husband and wife, and I felt fractured. Maudlin. Depressed.
Looking back, from the frame of seven years, I can see that the summit of joy and grief confused my heart. The Great Exchange, I now refer to it; God’s plan of placing me in the care of His choicest husband as He took away His choicest father.
This week we celebrate 8 years of marriage… and my dad’s birthday. Dad left us 8 years ago; just weeks after we announced our engagement.
There is grace in the mess of grief and celebration, co-mingled in the heart of a newly wed. Grace to experience the grief of the loss of the dearest and kindest father I could ask for. The father who would have lassoed the moon and given it to me, if only I asked. The father who believed I could change the world… and that I would. The father who thought I am the most beautiful woman besides my mom. He would say, “You look more and more like your mother every day… more and more beautiful.” Or something like, “You are so smart. You are going to change the world.”
The prayer. I remember the prayer I begged God as I drove north on the 101 freeway, heading home to my roommate after a dinner date with dad where I lived as a single girl… with no man on pursuit.
“God! Please have the man You have for me in my life before You take my dad.” I knew then what I see now… My sense of earthly security built upon being loved, protected, and cared for. My father started my life as the man who believed in me and believed in the women I would become. I hoped that the man God already chose for my husband might somehow comfort my inevitable loss, like Issac being comforted by his new wife Rebecca, as he grieved the loss of his mother, Sarah (Gen. 24:67).
So there we sat. At the end of year one. Jason ordered the quail, too many bones and gamey tasting. I ordered the garlic chicken. And I cried.
Grief and joy co-mingled in the heart of a newly wed. The grace of joy in the dearest, kindest husband a wife could hope for. A man so wise, with a heart of integrity and a passion for the Lord. My best friend. I cried in thankfulness. I cried more as I pulled inward to contain my cry. I cried in grief.
7 years later, as we dined tonight celebrating 8 adventurous years, I laughed. I laughed at the crazy things we try. I laughed at our inside jokes and silly kids. I laughed because God answered my prayer in more grand ways than I even imagined.
And for a few moments tears also fuzzed the lens of my eyes. I miss dad.
Through it all I learned God sustains me and will never leave me. Yet, in His love, he blessed me with the great gift of my husband, Jason.
Jason is now the one who cheers me on… he believes God can use me to change the world… and that He will. Jason says I get more beautiful every day even though the grey hairs are multiplied. I feel safest when I hug Jason, no matter what the world throws our way. If there is a looking glass in heaven for those who have gone before us, I know dad is looking down and is pleased with God’s choice of husband for me… and the timing of…
The Great Exchange.
Happy Anniversary, Jason (June 1). Happy Birthday, Dad (June 5).