I'm finding out that one of the hardest things about entering a new normal is not knowing what it will look like.
For example, if that new normal means gaining something like a job, you wonder how your new boss will treat you and if you will actually enjoy what you’re doing. If it's a new relationship, you try to guess if that person is really as good as they seem or if their true personality will turn out to be disappointing. And if it’s a new baby, you’re probably trying to figure out how to function without sleep and do anything other than talk about your baby and post pictures of every possible milestone.
On the other hand, if you are going into a new normal without someone you love due to a broken relationship or even worse, death - you are probably thinking about how you will respond and what that pain will do to you. Will it make you stronger or break you? Will you still trust in God even when you didn’t get the answer you begged him for? Will you surrender your plans and your future to God completely or will you let this be your excuse for never trusting in him again?
It has been 500 days since I whispered my last “I love you” to my wife, Lyndsie and entered my new normal.
I have asked all of those questions and many more as a broken-hearted husband and a father struggling to find some form of normalcy for my children. I was forced to find the answers to those questions, not to impress others or to demonstrate the proper, non-messy way a christian should grieve. No, grief has a way making you care less about what people think - if you have ever been to a funeral, you get what I’m saying. I have been forced to find the answers so I could decide how I would respond and move forward. My new normal scared me and made me feel alone even when I was surrounded by so many people who deeply loved our family. My new normal was unwanted and unbearable. I remember crying out to God and asking him so many questions. And even though it has been a slow process, I have been given answers over time through his Word, through friendships, wise counsel, opportunities to share my heart and through an undeniable desire to encourage and help those who are broken and struggling. I still don’t have it all figured out...not by a long shot, but I have ultimately answered those big questions in my heart by saying yes, I will trust God and yes, I will surrender my plans in exchange for his plans.
If you’re thinking, “well that sounds like a stupid thing to do after your plans didn't turn out the way you wanted, Daniel” then give me a few more minutes to explain, ok?
All along the way, there have been moments happen that can’t be explained away as coincidence or luck - perfectly timed moments that bring healing and answers to prayers. One of those moments began developing a few weeks before Christmas when a friend of mine from church asked if Ethan and I would help with a video for the Christmas Eve program. He didn’t know it at the time, but the night he asked us to film was what would have been Lyndsie’s 30th birthday. I knew it would be tough day, but I reminded myself that I wanted my purpose to outweigh my pain and I said yes to shooting the video. Instead of sitting home and fighting a weird mood like I thought I would, Ethan and I went out and actually had a really special time that night. It was healing for me to see Ethan laughing and smiling. Keep in mind that I had no idea what song or message would be played with the video but I knew it was supposed to happen and trusted God and my friends with the details.
On Christmas Eve, I watched this moving moment in person and was so comforted and encouraged by the words that I heard…
As I experienced that moment, I thought about how proud Lyndsie would be of us, especially Ethan for sharing that signature little grin of his. I thought about what how far we have come as a family since last Christmas. And I thought about how perfectly the message and lyrics of that song spoke to my heart.
I know what it looks like to lose someone I love and I know what it sounds like to cry out in brokenness. But I was challenged to move forward as a family in such a way that when people see us, even in the middle of our brokenness, they will see what it looks like when God is all around.
In beautiful and undeniable ways, God is calling to each and every one of us right where we are, reminding us that he sees the future that we can’t see yet. He already hears our story of redemption and healing before we can even speak it. And just so you know, God is not waiting for us to be ok before he shows up.
God specializes in being close to the broken and filling the empty with comfort and purpose.
He is calling to each and every one of us right where we are. He already sees what we can’t see and he hears what we can’t hear and he is asking us to trust him with our plans and our dreams. The question is, are we willing to be still enough to hear his voice?
“His patient voice whispers to each one of us, calling us, opening our eyes to see His glory in and through everything. His thoughts are beyond our thoughts. He sees what we cannot see and hears what we cannot hear. His Word guides all of creation in an unstoppable pursuit of each and every one of us. He redeems the hopeless and works in more ways than we could ever ask, think or imagine. His perspective is perfect. His plan never lost in the day to day. Quietly, he asks us to open our eyes. Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?”