My dear cousin, Josh, has died. I've always said that I want to go "fast" when I die. And yet, being on the other side of a "fast" death, is agony. So many unanswered questions, so many unsaid "goodbyes" make such a passing difficult. There's a part of me that wants to shake a fist at God and say, "why him???" And yet, I'm reminded that each breath, each day is a gift. It's not promised. We tend to live as if it is expected. We have come to feel as if it is deserved. And yet scripture clearly says that life is a "fleeting vapor." (James 4:14)
The best thing I can think of to do is not live with the attitude that I deserve a day. I need to live as I believe - that life is precious. I think of what matters most and then think of how much time I give to what matters most. I watched a youtube interview that really made me pause and think about how I live my life. Evidently it's been out for several years, but I had never seen it before. As a Christian, after personally experiencing the aftermath of lives taken "too soon", my question to myself is, "What am I waiting for?" There are so many people in my life that do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So many people I so dearly love haven't accepted Christ's gift of salvation. And I sit back and let precious days go by as if I've been guaranteed another. Fear of what my friends will think or if I'll even have friends anymore tends to stop me in my tracks. I justify this by saying the St. Francis of Assisi quote, "preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words" and take on a holier than thou attitude like I believe that my life sufficiently points people to Christ. I wish that were the case, but I find that unlike Joe Pesci's character in "My Cousin Vinny" I blend in more than not. At work, a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had lived in Haiti and when I was asked why, I explained that my parents were missionaries. The people I work with seemed surprised by this information and that has caused me to pause. I didn't ask them why they were surprised. I guess I was too convicted to find out if they just envision most missionaries having a 12 inch thick Bible thumping in their hands while wearing the largest cross necklace money can buy or if my lifestyle, my words, and my attitudes have not led anyone to deduce that I am a Christ follower.
Much to ponder as I prepare to gather with my family to say goodbye to an amazing man. I will miss you Josh Oltman (1975-2012).
Friday, December 21, 2012
"God is good." I need to be reminded of that right now as I am unable to make sense of my cousin's continued suffering. He entered hospice yesterday and there's a part of me that keeps asking why. And the answer I get is "I am good." I honestly don't doubt it. I don't doubt that God has a plan. My belief has not wavered. But, I'm not happy about his choice of plan, I can tell you that. I don't doubt that God is good, but it hasn't stopped me from yelling at him a few times since hearing the diagnosis. I believe that I can truly believe that God's plan is good and still be angry about it. I don't know if that makes sense, but that dichotomy is where I am right now. It's almost like a child who deep down knows that they are loved dearly by their parent but is angry that their parent has not said or done what the child wants. I do feel a bit like stomping my feet and throwing a bit of a tantrum, I will admit that's crossed my mind. Instead I cry and beg and plead and cry some more and then whisper, "God is good. God has a plan" and rest in His arms of comfort.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
My cousin is sick.....really sick. And this has affected me in some ways that I never would have expected. I'm not one that is really huge on tradition. I'm not a keeper of stuff, so when my siblings and I discuss who gets what after mom and dad are gone (I know, slightly on the morbid side, but in our defense, our parents started the whole conversation) I'm not the one that wants the furniture, the pictures, etc. I haven't ever had an attachment to stuff...until now. This year, I made our family recipe for Danish Kringle. I've never made it before. I've never felt the pull to continue that tradition...until now. Now I'm baking it and giving it away as gifts - just like my mother does and her mother did. Now I want to become a crazy scrapbooker and take pictures of every moment - creating a pictorial history of the moments we have together. I am beginning to realize that stuff isn't just "stuff" when it belongs (ed) to someone you love. It represents them. It brings memories to the forefront. It matters. Life is precious. Life is fragile. I am realizing that more and more each day. I want to hold my family close. I want them to know how much I love them and and treasure them. And I want our family traditions to continue as strong as ever so that we can pass them down from generation to generation. I've taken stock and I want to live my life in such a way that what truly matters is always at the forefront of each and every day. This may not be entirely realistic, but I really want to try.