Yesterday marked three years since the passing of my father from this world into the next. If you’re not familiar with the story, you can read up on it here. The last several weeks, especially, have held a lot of reflection on one of the greatest men I’ve ever known.
One of the things I’ve most appreciated about my dad was the way he modeled the love of my Heavenly Father. From my earliest memories, it’s impossible to think of my dad without thinking about his love for Jesus; subsequently, that love was evident in all that he did, especially when it came to being a parent. I never had trouble accepting God as my Heavenly Father namely because I wholeheartedly trusted and loved my Earthly Father.
In fact, this probably has been the area of my heart that has most dramatically changed over these past three years. Early on in the grieving process, I recognized that I had looked to God & depended on Him to play many roles in my life in various seasons.
He showed me He was my Best Friend in some lonely moments like starting a new school where I knew no one. He was my Protector when I was faced with some life-threatening situations. I looked to Him as my Husband during my single years.
But I never really had to depend on Him as my Father. I had the best Dad a girl could ever ask for, so while I could relate to God as a Father, I never really had to trust Him to be my Father.
And that’s maybe where the deepest pain of my heart originated with my dad’s accident and death. What kind of Father would let this happen to His kids? My dad would never want to put me in this kind of pain, so why would my Heavenly Father make such a different decision? And if He did, can He really be trusted?
As I look back on the last several years, I cannot say that God has magically answered all my questions with brilliant explanations that satisfy my heart. I can say, however, that I have started to learn what it means to look to God as my Father, and to trust Him in that role in my life. He has patiently and graciously been giving me glimpses of what it means to have a Father’s heart.
So, I share with you a 4-part reflection of some of my journey.
Some background . . . I am a self-proclaimed Disney Freak. It was a favorite family vacation growing up, so when it comes to the over-priced, fantastical, escapist vacation that Disney World provides, I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. I’m all in. Don’t judge.
My dad, especially, had this knack of making extraordinary things happen when we were there. One time, he managed to schmooze different workers so that every day, we were given these super fast passes that let all seven of us get fast passes to any ride all day. We would look at him with these open-mouthed faces wondering how he managed to do this and he would just smile and say, “Favor!” And he was right. For whatever reason, Disney World made my family smile, and whenever we were there, God smiled on my family.
So, in many ways, taking my three young kids to Disney and watching them experience the magic was in many ways a dream come true. Yet at the same time, I anticipated a bittersweet walk through the park, remembering the joyful moments with my dad and recognizing the vacuum of his presence in any future memories.
I was determined to make this trip magical for my kids, however, and like a true Edwards Disney-ite, I had done my research and planned out our days to make our trip perfect. I was most intrigued by one of the newest experiences to the park, “Enchanted Tales With Belle,” my favorite princess and the favorite of my then four-year-old daughter, Gabby. Participants would get to reenact “Beauty and the Beast” and were assigned roles to play in the story. One child would be chosen to be the Beast, which meant that the child would actually get to meet Belle, the real Belle, and dance with her, just like they did in the movie.
As soon as I read I about this, I knew that this would literally be Gabby’s dream come true. We were getting ready to leave the next morning and I half-heartedly prayed, “God, let this be a special day for the kids. And if it’s possible, maybe, if You want to, well, let Gabby be the Beast. I know it’s probably not a big deal in the grand scheme of things in the universe, but I know it would make her happy. So, maybe You could make that happen?”
And honestly, my prayer wasn’t even that pretty. I was hurting. My trust was destroyed. With my dad gone, I wasn’t sure to whom I should turn for all those magical favors that he always seemed to get at Disney.
We started off our adventure with Belle. The Disney worker picked some ten-year-old girl to be Beast, and Gabby, Claire, and my nieces all got to be some silverware and they loved it. I could see right away why they gave the role to an older kid. The role of Beast was pretty critical to the whole experience. If you had a toddler with stage-fright, the whole thing was ruined. I accepted the situation as a fun one because the kids were happy, and well, it was a silly prayer anyway.
**More to come in Part 2**