His banner over me

Lord Jesus,

You are here. Whether I feel You or not, whether I talk to You or not, You permeate the atmosphere. I know this is true. When my pleas begin—and end—with “Lord Jesus…” because I don’t have the capacity to form another syllable, You are here. When I lie down to sleep, You cradle me. When my tears fall, I feel Your comfort.

Even so, I don’t know how to do this.

When I lost Mom, I felt as though You’d abandoned me. Later, I realized that if I didn’t feel You then, it was because I had pushed You away.

Oh, Lord, I want to lean on You this time. I want to abide in the shelter of Your wings. I want to draw my strength from You. I want to find joy and I long to worship you in the midst of it all.

But honestly, I don’t know if I can.

I’ve been functioning on auto-pilot. Facts, statistics, details. Because that’s all I think I can handle right now. Facts don’t require emotions.

But you know what else I know? Your banner over me is love. (Song of Solomon 2:4)

When I hold Dad’s hand in the middle of the night, soothing him in the wake of the hallucinations caused by his pain meds—when I show him love—You are here.

When we make his favorite foods or order carryout from Little Mexico, hoping to find something he’ll eat, Your banner of love is waving overhead. When he commented that the sunflowers I bought for his room reminded him of Van Gogh’s famous painting, I smiled because I already knew that, and You were here.

When we set our alarms to give him his meds around the clock, when we help him brush his teeth or adjust his oxygen or refill his water glass or hold his straw or call the hospice nurse with questions or respond to people’s messages or lie in the dark alongside him, tears streaming, unable to sleep, You are here. When we sit beside him, hearing the sounds of his labored breathing, checking his skin for mottling, watching him grimace in pain, squeezing drops of liquid pain medicine into his mouth, listening to the incoherent words he’s mumbling, even when we know he is no longer aware of us being here, You are here.

Wherever love is present, You are too.

Love isn’t the problem. This is: I am certain that I am not strong enough to do this. I don’t know how to move forward after the inevitable conclusion, even though I simultaneously long for it to hasten to arrive.

When Mom died, I felt as though there was nothing to tether me any longer. I felt like I was loose, lost, free (but not in a good way). I lost all sense of who I was when she wasn’t around to define me, to know me. I don’t know what losing Dad is going to do to me. Mom’s personality was strong, and I spent much of my life resisting her. It didn’t stop me from loving her, or calling her three times a day, but it was a different relationship than the one I have with Dad.

Because Dad and I have always just fit together. We enjoy each other. Understand each other. Notice the same things. We can sit together and be comfortable, whether we’re doing something or not. I can easily grasp the kind of unconditional love the Heavenly Father has for me because of the sweetness and completeness of the love Dad has always shown me. I have never ceased to feel adored and cherished and valued with Dad.

What do I do when he’s not here to show that to me any longer?

I try to rest in You, Lord. I want to lean on You, but the distance between where I am in this moment and where I’d have to be to turn to You seems impassable. In order to let You in, I have to lower my defenses. If I open my heart, I will have to feel pain. To get to You, I have to step out from behind this brittle wall protecting my heart. And I just don’t think I can do that, because in that split second of time between the two, it seems as though my heart might disintegrate. The vulnerability in that moment of transition might just obliterate me.

I want You, Lord, but I just don’t know how to get to You right now.

I’ll have to rest in the certainty that Your banner over us is love. Your love is freely and boldly declared, visible for all to see, marking me as belonging to You, just as our love for Dad marks us as belonging to him.

Love is Your defining characteristic. You are the source of all love and the embodiment of it. And there is most definitely an abundance of love in this room. In my heart, and in Dad’s, and in the hearts of those who are here with us.

So please, Lord, know my heart. Don’t abandon me or withhold Yourself because of my failings in these moments. Be bigger than I am. Stronger and more faithful. More true, more understanding, more gracious. More forgiving, more hopeful, more solid. More loving. More present. More certain, and more comforting, and more…everything than I can imagine or dream or articulate.

I’m so glad that You are my strength when I am weak, because I’ve never felt weaker.

When the end comes, let Dad pass peacefully from here, where he is cradled in our arms, to there, where he is cradled, forevermore, in Yours.

Please don’t ever let go of me. I will need You then even more than I do now.

And even though I can’t seem to tear down these barriers I’ve erected in self-preservation, I do know how much I need You and love You. I thank You for this incredible man who is my father, and I pray that I don’t need to find the right words in order for You to know that and hold me tight when I collapse. In that moment, please, Lord, whisper to me of how much more You adore and cherish and value me than even my dad ever did. Let me know that, believe it, and in those moments, let me feel him with me.

Because I will always be my daddy’s little girl.

And I will always belong to You, too.

Amen.

11 Responses to “His banner over me”

  1. Dearest Kelly
    I awakened this morning after my dad was taken to the hospital yesterday and is lying in a hospital room, we are waiting to know the outcome. I awakened this morning my precious friend, to your post…God Kell, sometimes life is raw, naked with it’s pain and suffering. Sometimes we can scarcely breathe for the terror of the moments that will define our DNA. We are both daddy’s girls…I said to my dad yesterday “The good news is you are loved more than anyone else on this earth by me, the bad news is you are loved more than anyone else on the earth, by me.” Letting go of our biggest fan, our shelter, our unconditional acceptance, our dad’s is frankly something akin to our greatest nightmare. It is also something akin to grace in the arms of our heavenly Father, who is the ONLY way to survive any of this. I can’t pretend to know if we will both be okay…it’s that manna every morning thing, it’s the prayers of beautiful people who love us. I love you Kelly, I am standing with you in Colorado, praying for the peaceful passing of a beloved daddy. (For you and for me) You know my phone number is you need a prayer warrior through the terror. I understand

  2. Sherrie Peters says:

    Oh Kelly, (and Lynn) I am praying for you! Lynn’s response was perfect and God’s will be too. Hold tight. He is holding on tightly to all of you. I am so sorry this is happening now, I know when I lost my dad I wasn’t ready but he was and God was and I had peace just knowing that. May God give you strength, and peace, and manna for each moment. Our love and prayers are with you!

  3. Dearest Kelly says:

    You and your whole family have been on my mind and in my prayers ever since Kay told me about your Dad’s condition. I’m so sorry that you have to go through this trauma and pain and I hope that Rob passes peacefully and quickly. It’s so hard to figure out what to say in times like this but I want you to know that I’m here for you and if you need me I can be there for you and I know hundreds of people feel this way for you and Kerry. I’m sure of God’s love for you but I’m even surer of your father’s love for you and remember he’s not really leaving you he’s only leaving his body.

  4. Elizabeth lincourt says:

    My post came across saying my name was dearest Kelly. Oops

  5. Lu says:

    You are right: HE KNOWS you. Every hair, every cell, every fiber of your being. Every feeling and the depths of the feelings you’re striving ever so hard NOT to feel right now. He KNOWS it all. From the inside out. Nothing is unknown to Him.
    And you are right: He is there. In the moment of the sunflower, the squeezing of the hand, the smile, the tears, the breath of ALL present…He is the sustainer of all life….and He is indeed preparing your hearts, so He can welcome your Daddy to his Heavenly home. And in that moment, both will still be with you. Your Heavenly Father AND your earthly one. You will simply begin knowing your Daddy (and yes, even God) in a new and different way. But all of who he’s always been, will not have left you. Only the outside part that you can feel. The rest…..it will reach a new depth you cannot possibly fathom now. And while you’re learning this new way to be with your Dad, Both will be cradling you in their arms, whispering love and hope to you.
    And all of us out here…..we are lifting you up in this moment, with love.
    You will know how to do this. You already do….and when your shell cracks as must a seed shatter for new life to be born, all you need will already be there.

  6. Dearest Kelly–

    Hugs, tears, and prayers, dear one.

  7. Linda Spencer says:

    I love this expression of such deep love you share, Kelly. This feels like a Christian form of Lamentations that speaks to the heart of everyone who has suffered such loss. Your dad was so fortunate to be surrounded by such loving family, helping to ease his passing into heaven. Hugs and prayers for you all.

  8. Kelly,
    I have walked this hard, hard road. I weep with you and pray that the God of all comfort will meet your every need.

  9. Lee Merrill says:

    Lord, Just as you held my sister and me when we held our daddy’s hand until he took Yours, hold Kelly and Lynn in just the way they need. Be their safe place to weep and then heal, in Jesus’ name.

  10. Lee Merrill says:

    Kerry not Lynn. So sorry

  11. Jean Morgan says:

    Kelly, I, as many others have expressed, are so very sorry you are going through this very trying time. It is at times like this that we have to realize God IS in control. He sees your tears, your fear and your questions. He will hold out His hand to your Dad when His time is right and knowing God WILL shelter you and your family and give you peace. I will continue to keep your Dad, you and your family in my prayers.

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