Saying Good-bye...

I kept expecting to see him today...snitching a piece of dessert early with that "innocent" twinkle in his eye, standing there deep in conversation with Bro. Gary about no telling what, or honking the horn on the truck with the remote for the pure delight of aggravating Beverly, and then hearing her in that "Somebody's about to get it" voice..."ROY GENE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 

But Roy wasn't there.  He wasn't going to give the kids "wet willies" or poke fun at Jodie and Becky and I or laugh that wonderful cackling laugh because Peter was tormenting Beverly with a dead snake.  Last Thursday night, very unexpectedly, Roy went to be with Jesus.  Today his family and friends celebrated his life and the God he served.

As the kids and I were driving home from the funeral this afternoon, a blog post began to compose itself in my head.  I thought at the time, "By the time I get to the computer, I'll have forgotten all of this...", and sure enough, most of it has gone "poof!"  into whatever black hole most of my best thoughts disappear before I get to the keyboard. The ideas are still there, but the tidy composition is long gone.  (Sometimes I think  I really need a dictaphone like I used to use to dictate case notes back in my DHS days. :))

So...instead of the neatly composed post from the van this afternoon, this post is going to be some random, rambling thoughts from the day...(from two days, actually, because my body and my brain gave out last night before I managed to finish this post...so the green is from last night, and the black is from today.  Unfortunately, a night's sleep did not bring back the post I'd so neatly composed in my head yesterday, so you're still getting long and random and rambling.  Sorry about that!  At least I don't have my shirt on backwards and my slippers on the wrong feet like a certain pastor posted on Facebook that he did this morning.  ;-)  It's been a long week!)

Grief...The Awful and the Wonderful

Grief is a horrible, awful, terrible part of life.  But...as horrid as grief is, a life without it would be even worse.  The richer and more wonderful our lives have been because of what we have  lost, the harder we grieve.  I remember my aunt, who'd lost her own father, my beloved Papaw, many years before, saying to me when my dad died..."The more we love them, the deeper the hole they leave in our hearts when they are gone."  So true.  As hard and long as I grieved when my dad died, the relationship that we had was well worth that grief. 

We never in a million years expected to be having a funeral in our little church family so soon...especially for Roy.  I never would have imagined that the sense of loss and grief for someone we'd known such a short time could be so deep...for all of us.  But as I sat in the funeral home yesterday listening to Bro. Gary preach about the gifts God gave through Roy's life, I realized something.  As much as I've cried in the last week...as much as missing our friend hurts...as much as my heart aches for and with Beverly in her unimaginable loss...I am so thankful for those months that we got to spend knowing Roy and worshiping, serving, and laughing with him at Grace.   I am so thankful that last summer, God said, "Go!", and we went...even though in so many ways it didn't make a lot of sense at the time.   In addition to all the other blessings God has given through our move to Grace, our lives have been blessed and changed greatly by knowing Roy even for that short time.

Speaking of "Short Times"...

God's timing is not our timing.  We often say that, and it's usually in response to something negative in our lives.  I know I've thought it often in the last week.  God's timing certainly wasn't ours in taking Roy home to Heaven.  If we'd had our way, we would have been throwing a 50th anniversary party for Roy and Beverly in 20 years.  We know His timing is right and perfect, but sometimes it's awfully hard.

But...there are also times when God's timing is amazing in an "earthly good" way.  I'm blown away  by the way that God can knit together the hearts of His people almost instantly.  He's done that in the past for me with certain friends.  Usually, close friendships grow slowly...they take time to take deep root and flourish.  But there are times...and it's always so clear that it's totally God's working...when a connection is sudden and deep.  We've marveled at the way that God has done that with Bro. Gary and Becky and Roy and Beverly in recent months.  

And this week we've talked about how crazy it is that Roy's death has affected us as much as it has.  We first met Roy a year and a half ago, went back to help with the Grace Baptist Community Thanksgiving Meal a few months later, and only about four and a half months ago became part of  Grace Baptist  and began truly getting to know Roy and Beverly.  But in those few months, they've become like family.  They immediately loved on us, laughed with (and sometimes at :)) us, prayed for us, and made us feel as though we'd been "part of things" forever.   We have a wealth of memories from our short time with Roy. 

I realized this week that we weren't the only ones for whom that was true.  When we first met Roy and Beverly, I got the idea that they were related to Bro. Gary and Becky somehow.  I thought that for a long time, and when I realized that they were "just friends", I was under the {again mistaken} understanding that they had been friends for many years. From their relationships and conversations, it just seemed like they'd been part of each other's lives forever.  Just this week I discovered that the two couples had only met a very few years ago...but again, God had knit hearts together quickly in His own amazing way.  That says a lot to me about God's mysterious workings, but also about Roy and Beverly's hearts and their love for people. 

There are Little...and Big...Eyes on You

I've also been reminded this week that we rarely truly realize the impact we have on people, good or bad.  Tuesday the kids and I were running a quick errand on our way to the church to prepare for the funeral meal when we were accosted by a very rude man in the parking lot.  We were all in a bit of a fog of sadness as the reality of what we were preparing for had begun to sink in, but so far we hadn't succumbed to negativity in it.  Suddenly this man...who I'm sure thought he had the "right" to his anger...began a curse-laden tirade at us.  The children were shocked, and I was so stunned I could do little but gather my chicks close and hurry in to the store.  The short incident cast a pallor over the rest of the day, and I will never forget that man's snarled up face or his ugly, ugly words. 

In contrast, over and over again this week I've seen Roy's twinkling eyes and mischievous grin and heard that wonderful laugh in my head.  I've realized again and again the ways that Roy influenced and changed my life and the lives of my family and friends for the better.  I've remembered his smile-that-was-trying-not-to-turn-into-a-chuckle when Ammah Grace put her coins in the offering plate Sunday before last, and the hug and "Merry Christmas" we exchanged as we said good-bye for what we had no idea would be the last time.  I've re-read his "Merry Christmas-Love y'all" response to Bro Gary's Christmas message on Facebook.  I've listened to Bro. Gary tell story after story of Roy's service to the church...and seen his handiwork every time I walk in the building.   

I'm sure he had no idea the impact he would leave on so many people.  I'm sure that the man from the parking lot has no idea how much harder he made an already sad day, or how he has become a permanent part of my memories from this week.  We have no idea the impact we are having on those around us, good or bad.   I so want others to think of love and laughter and service when they think of me...but in order for that to happen, I have to live in the Spirit so that His love and joy and service will spill out of me.  {Ouch}

Noticing a Theme...

Speaking of love, laughter, and service, I posted this last Thursday night:

There are four things I'll always think of when I think of Mr. Roy...

1. He loved Jesus.
2. He loved people.
3. He was always ready to help meet a need.
4. He had one of the best laughs ever.  And he used it often.  And his eyes twinkled.  We are going to miss that laugh and those twinkling eyes!

Yesterday in Bro. Gary's funeral message, he talked about God giving us three gifts through Roy:
           1. The gift of love...His love for Beverly, his love for others, and his love for Jesus.
           2. The gift of laughter.
           3. The gift of service. 

Notice a theme there?  Yesterday at the funeral meal I heard story after story of those three gifts as well.  What a wonderful way to be remembered!

The Body in Action

Yesterday was filled with sadness.  There were lots of tears as we hurt for and with Beverly and the rest of the family and as we missed Roy and kept waiting for him to pop out somewhere laughing.  But there was joy in the day, too.  God gave comfort and encouragement and love and even joy in the midst of the sadness.  When I look back at the day my dad died, and his funeral, there is definitely sadness, but the sadness is overwhelmed by the blessings God gave during that time.  Yesterday was much the same...abundant blessings wove through the sadness like a beautiful ribbon.

One of those blessings, for me, was seeing the true Body of Christ in action.  It transcended church membership boundaries, it wasn't part of a committee or program...it was just people loving other people and serving Christ from their hearts, and it was beautiful.  Our church is small...just a few core families right now...and the funeral meal yesterday was to be large.  There was the temptation to worry...will there be enough food?  Will we have enough help?  Then Jodie said, "God just keeps reminding me of the story of the 5 loaves and 2 fish.  He provided then, He will provide now."  And provide He did.  There was more than enough food, and God sent the perfect people to help.  And what a blessing they were! 

Wrapping Up

I know this post is long, even for one who's never been known for brevity of the written word. And it really barely scratches the surface of the thoughts that have been in my mind and on my heart the last few days.   We miss Roy.  We hurt for Beverly, for his family, for Bro. Gary and Becky and others who have lost a dear friend.   We know that our grief is tiny compared to theirs.  We know that God is sustaining and comforting and working, even in this, and we are thankful for the certainty of His faithfulness and love as we continue to pray for Beverly, the family, Grace Baptist, and all those who loved Roy. 

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold. ~ Proverbs 22:1

Thanks for visiting Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Please take a minute to follow Ponderings of an Elect Exile on FacebookTwitter, and/or Pinterest.  Or subscribe by email via the box in the sidebar.

No comments: