This week marks seven years since my step-dad, William, passed away from cancer. I was in Ohio for a cousins wedding when I got the news that he'd died. I still remember that day like it was yesterday, because it's the only time I've collapsed when someone told me sad news. When I answered my mom's phone call and she told me William was gone, it was like I'd been punched in the stomach. William loved God and always had wonderful insight into the Bible. He was soft spoken, and I always felt like I had to lean in a little bit to hear him, but I could never not listen. I didn't get to know him for very long since he died after only two years of marriage to my mom, but in that time, he became a second father to me.
The day I found out about his passing, I sat down and wrote the following. The first draft did not start out on a positive note, in fact, in it, I compared my life at the time to Job from the Bible. When I finished that first draft, and read it through I thought, "I can't let people read this. It's horrible." so I started over.
I decided to share this again because whenever the anniversary of his death comes around I very briefly think about how horrible it felt to hear he'd gone, but then I remember this, and I smile. And after I remember this, I remember the image God gave me of William sitting at a long table in heaven, surrounded by the disciples. On that table were several pizza's and large vats of slightly melted ice cream and William was there in the middle, discussing the Bible with his biblical hero's and eating his favorite foods.
So, after a long introduction, here it is: Small Blessings.
(William on his wedding day.)
Last night as I sat down for a dinner of chicken and dumplings with my cousins in Ohio, the power went out. There was a storm raging outside. Winds so strong they were breaking windows in houses in some areas of the city. Trees were falling over and lightning was a serious threat to anyone foolish enough to be caught outside.
A hush fell over the family and we listened to the storm. It only lasted a second before there was a groan from the electronic loving teenagers of the family, barking from frightened dogs and concern over the house getting too hot without the air conditioner from the adults.
As the storm raged outside, and the family inside, I sat on the couch whispering a prayer that the storm wouldn’t create any tornadoes. I’m deathly afraid of them. I can handle strong wind, power outages and lightening, just keep me away from spinning tunnels of destruction.
Today there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Usually after a storm like this one it creates unbearable heat and humidity in the eastern states, but not today. It was a perfect temperature, with a very soft, cool breeze. In the evening I sat outside with a good book and enjoyed the golden rays of the setting sun. It was my blessing after the storm, both literally and figuratively.
This morning I found out my step-dad passed away. This seems to be the peak in a string of frustrating, unfair circumstances I’ve had recently. As I sat outside thinking over the past two or three months, going over all the bad in my life I felt the light wind brush over my face and arms. One of those gentle wafts of air that comes directly at you, caressing your skin. I closed my eyes and lifted my head toward the rays of the setting sun. For that one moment, everything was perfect. There was no sadness in my life, no pain. God hugged me with the wind and filled me with peace.
When all of life seems to be going wrong it can be hard to see the blessings in life, but there is always something. It may be small, it may only last a second or two, but it’s there, a sunny day, the song of a bird or a warm hug from the wind. These moments are my favorite, especially when they come unexpectedly, at a point when it seems nothing will ever be right again. These small blessings are a relief, a break to give strength to go on, continue the day and conquer the bad moments in life. I think God gives us these small blessings when we are whispering a prayer to God, to keep the tornadoes away. When we say,
“God, I’m in the worst storm of my life right now, please, please don’t let me go through a tornado too.”
You may not hear anything right away, the storm may still be raging around you, but soon, very soon, you’ll find those few seconds of relief and they will make all the difference in the world. I found those few seconds in a cool breeze and they stayed with me. In my spirit I still feel God hugging me. Even though there is still pain and sadness His peace is, and will continue to give me the comfort I need to make it though.