The zombie is dead. I don’t recall the moment when it happened. There was no last clawing gasp, no dramatic wrenching away. Somewhere during the quiet of our time away on the Pacific coast, amidst the ocean breeze, the peaceful strolls and the fantastically brilliant fish tacos, he simply stopped serving a purpose and left. I am grateful for this. My breath seems to come easier, my exhales feel deeper. My thoughts can find moments of stillness. Even though my sunburns still ache a bit, for the first time in months, my heart feels at peace.
I am truly grateful for all of these things but I am not who I was. I have not been restored. Through all of this, the troubles and the moments of peace, I have instead been refined into something new. It’s as though a fire has blazed through my life leaving behind only the essential parts that cannot be consumed, that cannot be reduced. The purpose of this post is to document what remains and to establish a manifesto for how I intend to move forward.
I am the redeemed son of the one and only almighty God who creates all things and knows me personally. In every moment of my day, in my moments of righteousness and sin, in every breath and in all things around me, I see his presence and his hand at work in my life. I know who He is. I know who I am in His eyes and where I am going. Yesterday, Z told me that we do not have to be afraid when we walk through the valley of shadows because we know the light is still there. It is the light that makes the shadows in the first place. Amen to that. I am the redeemed son of the one and only almighty God and, whether I walk in shadow or in light, I will do my best to walk without fear.
I am the blessed husband of a wife who has been given to me by God. As a young Christian teen, barely understanding my commitment to Him and the power of what I was doing, she was the only thing I prayed for earnestly and daily. As of today, we have been married for 21 years, 5 months and 8 days. She is not perfect, nor am I but our God is wonderfully perfect. With Him tying our marriage together, we have already and will continue to survive and thrive through every challenge until He decides to bring each of us home. I am the blessed husband of a wife who has been given to me by God and, in all of our perfect imperfection, I will do my best to honor her.
I have been given the opportunity to be a father to five wonderfully challenging children. Five, not four. My responsibility and my commitment to my children has nothing to do with their legal age, where they happen to reside or whether, in their impetuous, emotionally turbulent development, they accept my role in their life. My job is to be the immovable bedrock under their feet upon which they can stand tall and reach beyond to their own future. Bedrock bears and distributes the load. It anchors. It stands against wind and waves, fire and tremor. It is scuffed, scraped and scarred. Bedrock does not begrudge its role. It does not require recognition or gratitude. Its burden is its purpose and it bears it with a steadfast spirit, without complaint. I have been given the opportunity to be a father for the rest of my life to five wonderfully challenging children. No matter what comes my way, whether they like it or not and until my last gasping breath, I will do my best to lift them up.
I have been blessed with a vast and ever-growing band of Christian brothers and sisters, a wife and children, friends and family, all over this planet. They celebrate with me, mourn with me, walk beside me, encourage me and lift me up. They hold me accountable and remind me that I am here to serve others and not myself. These people see me through better eyes. I am blessed to have such a powerful band of Christian brothers and sisters around me. I will do my best to happily serve them all the days of my life.
I am a son, a husband, a father and a friend. In each of these roles, I daily find equal parts success and failure for, underneath it all, I am an incurably flawed human being. My mind, my heart and my body are weak and subject to temptation and ruin at every turn. I am often fooled, tricked, confused and lured away from the truth. The roughly hewn and meandering trails I have made leading away from and back to God’s narrow road have deep ruts from regular, frustrated use.
Because I am flawed, I cannot commit to tend to these relationships perfectly. I will not condemn myself when I make mistakes. I can only commit to do my best, to improve each day and to be very comfortable with asking for patience, forgiveness and grace from God and from the people around me. I can also happily commit to extend easy forgiveness, long-standing patience and grace without expectation to anyone that needs it from me. It is a blessing to me both in the giving and receiving of these things. None of us needs the baggage. Life is hard enough.
For those of you who are close to me, I know it has been difficult at times being witness to this fire burning in my life over the last few months. Thank you for enduring it with me. Please let this post encourage you and reassure you. I serve a mighty God and, while I may occasionally be down and seemingly out for the count, I know who I am. I know who made me. I know where my strength comes from.
I will not break.