When you lose people that you love, there is always a gap left behind. No matter how hard you try, you can never completely fill that gap, it’s just not going to happen. In fact, trying to adequately fill the gap will most likely lead to heartache and frustration. We are all unique and the people in our lives whom we love are unique, filling a special place for us.
Both of my parents were very dear to me in different ways. My mom was always a source of comfort and love, of encouragement and support. She was my number one fan, always telling me how proud she was of the things that I had accomplished. She was a prayer warrior who would always pray with me and for me. No matter what was going on in her life, she never forgot to ask me about certain happenings in my own life in a very selfless way.
My dad was a source of wisdom and experience to me. When I went into the ministry full-time, he wrote me a note to tell me how proud he was of me and the choices that I had made. I would often probe him with questions, doing my best to gain from his own experience. With more than 40 years in the ministry, he had his fair share of heartaches and heartbreaks as well as joyful triumphs. There are so many times when I am pondering certain things about my calling and my work when I want to just pick up the phone and call him. I want to get his insights and hear his experiences, I want to push back against some of this ideas while he pushes back against mine.
Since I lost my parents, I have never tried to find someone to take their place, I knew that would lead to disappointment. Yet, God knows what we need, he knows that there are gaps that need to be filled and he fills them in a different way. Thankfully, I have found that those gaps have been filled with no effort of my own, no searching, without me even trying.
There is a couple in our community of faith who has acted as surrogate parents to me since we moved here nearly seven years ago. They have helped us through the births of our two younger children, watching the older ones and providing care and assistance when we needed it most. When I was dealing with both of my parents’ declining health, they were there through it all. We spend some holidays together. We watch sports together. We share life moments together. Words can hardly express my gratitude for their friendship and love for me and my family.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of spending time with an older pastor. We connected at one of our denominational meetings a few months back and have been trying to schedule a meeting together for some time. That meeting finally happened yesterday, and what a joy it was for me. I am so glad that God put it on this man’s heart to pursue a friendship with me and that he was persistent in letting that happen.
As we sat there at lunch, talking about where we have been, I couldn’t help but see some of the gaps being filled, some of the pieces falling into place. At the end of our time, when he looked at me and asked whether there were things about which he could be praying for me, I was speechless for a moment. As I look back at that moment retrospectively, I can’t help but think about my mom and the times that we would pray together, about my dad and his wisdom and experience, his pride and his encouragement. While I have peers who are actively praying for and with me, this was different. I was reminded of James 5:16, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” With no disrespect meant towards my peers, for I value and covet their prayers greatly, the prayers of one who has weathered the storms of life and survived are blessings beyond measure.
Yesterday, a friend also posted a picture of my daughter on social media. This friend has had a way of capturing moments in my children’s lives in such a magical way with the lens of her camera. This picture was no exception. As I looked at the picture, I couldn’t help but see my mom’s eyes in that little girl. I couldn’t help but wonder about the love that my parents would be lavishing on her had they still been around.
A friend commented how my parents were watching over her in awe, and in that moment, I couldn’t help but think about them. I know that they always wanted what was best for me. They always prayed fervently for my brother and me and both of our families. They loved us unconditionally and always gave so much of themselves. While I don’t know if we still pray when we are with Jesus in person, I imagined that if they did pray, they would be praying prayers of thanksgiving that God had continued to provide for the needs of their children and grandchildren. I imagined that they were smiling as they realized that God had begun to fill in the gaps, and every little thing was going to be all right.