One of the biggest and most important stories that God has brought me through, on a variety of levels, was the death of my father.
I wrote back in March about his death, how it took me several weeks to mourn, and how I eventually found meaning in it by sharing how God brought me through it with others. I wanted to share the story of exactly how God brought me through such a tough time.
To put it bluntly, He did it through His church. God used the comforting presence of my closest friends (my youth group) to push, pull, prod, encourage, and exhort me through the process.
Every person grieves differently. Some withdraw, others act out, others relive old memories, still others throw themselves into work or a project. In the same way, I think everyone has a unique way of helping others through the grieving process.
In the weeks and months following my father’s death, my closest friends helped me in their own individual ways. Michael Hulsey played video games with me. It was something we had always done together. Isaac Schade played music with me. He was in his first year playing guitar, and we had sort of a musical bromance. Steven Johnson and Joel Starrett made me laugh. Constantly. They are, to this day, two out of the top 5 funniest people I know. The guys in my small group were amazing (Michael and Isaac were two of them). The caring adults in my life were amazing, too. The senior pastor at my home church and my youth pastor, Derek, took the time to pick me up from school one day and drive me to the hospital during the week leading up to my father’s death. The two of them, plus my small group leader Tom, actually came to the hospital at 3 in the morning the night my dad died to be with me and our family.
The net result of all of this was that the love and care and concern and sympathy and empathy poured into my life through these people, and others, slowly began to fill up the hole left by my father’s passing. And there is no doubt in my mind that God used my closest friends and church family to pour His love into my life.