I created the lyrics video below because it was my mom's favorite. My mom died suddenly on the day before Thanksgiving 28 years ago, taking a piece of my heart with her. For 27 years now, whenever November rolls around, one day I'm caught off guard with the vivid memory of that time, and for the next few weeks I get in a little mental balancing act, trying to ignore the ugh feeling on the one hand and focus on the good parts of Thanksgiving on the other. Like I tell my kids, we all have our bags in life to carry -- you gotta deal with it.
I remember the pastor at her funeral saying that when we lose a loved one the wound heals but a scar remains. True enough and every year, like clockwork, the same heavy-heart feeling returns for a few weeks making Thanksgiving forever bittersweet for me.
Until this year. The weirdest thing happened.
I was driving to work one morning two weeks ago when it randomly hit me like it does every year. I felt that familiar pain in my heart and I automatically started replaying that horrible Thanksgiving of 1990 in my mind: people, faces, words, scenes, sounds, "the call" in the middle of the night, the noisy, packed-to-the-gills flight home from California to Pittsburgh full of festive travelers on the busiest travel day of the year, Thanksgiving day that was just awful (no other word for it), on and on -- transported in an instant like it was yesterday. And it comes with the bonus knowledge that I'll replay these scenes a dozen more times before Thanksgiving day. Ugh.
In the midst of this I said out loud Jesus I'm so tired. I've been carrying this around for 28 years and I can't do it anymore. Can I please leave this with you? Will you take it from me? I'm so tired of the sadness and the hurt. I know she's with you. And before I even finished speaking -- like halfway through -- I could feel, really FEEL, a lightness coming over me. It was the feeling you have when you're carrying a heavy package or backpack and someone comes along and begins to help you carry it. Literally, that's what I felt. Not exaggerating. And not just physically but inside I felt lighter too. The sadness was... gone. Like, poof. I was still thinking of the same things but they seriously didn't hurt anymore. It's like the scar wasn't just healed it was gone, just gone -- removed. The missing *piece* of my heart was replaced with a genuine PEACE of my heart. It felt really strange, to be honest.
I wondered if it was just a temporary thing, sort of in the moment, or maybe I was just imagining it, but for two weeks now each time I think of mom's passing it's still... fine. I think I've developed this reflex where I *expect* to feel sad in November and I *expect* to have to deal with this thing, and I have certain things I do to counter it. Now, the old habits reflexively kick in and I'm prepared to do the old things but I realize I don't need to because I feel fine. It's totally weird.
And totally lovely. And totally beautiful. And totally Jesus.
I never thought I'd say those words. On New Year's Day night this year, I gave up fighting and fully submitted my life to Jesus after a long journey that I didn't fully realize I was on until seven months prior. Those were a rough seven months, I'll tell you. In the end I had no arguments left and I chose Life (capital L). Smartest decision I ever made.
I hope you enjoy the video How great thou art, indeed.