I think I've been guilty of idolatry. I believe I made an idol of my family.
It's been over fourteen months now, and I still can't look at a picture of him without that horrible, sick, gnawing ache in the pit of my stomach.
Elliot fell and cut open his lip. His smeared blood on my pants nearly did me in. My mind quickly filled with the recent memory of wiping my son's smeared blood from the door of that room. From there, all the way back to when Levi would fall and hurt himself as a little guy. The times when a fall, a fat lip, and little bit of blood wasn't such a serious thing; all just part of being a boy. The times when Dad could just pick him up, wipe away the blood and the tears, and have him laughing again in a minute or two.
Amazing how much Elliot's smeared blood looks just like his Uncle Levi's.
Over the past year, I've posted the articles on how grieving on this level causes actual brain damage. Cortisol and adrenaline levels are permanently affected. Neurotransmitters have to create new pathways, as the old ones shut down. You are literally rewired internally, and your mind simply does not function the same.
It's all true.
I lost my son and it has profoundly changed my life. It has changed who I am.
I know I'm not functioning up to former standards. I am certain of it.
I've made new friends from that pool of folks who have suffered the same kind of loss. They understand all too well what others can't possibly; that it is never "just" the loss of one child. The whole family is affected on so many levels in ways you could never foresee. In fact, the family you once had is just gone; vaporized. You have another family now; they look a lot like the old one, but they are different people that it will take a while to get to know.
Levi once told me he intended to remain single to better serve the LORD "without carefulness" or "distraction" (I Corinthians 7:32, 35).
I told him I understood where he was coming from, as I had once made the same decision for myself. But I found I wasn't so gifted after all. And there are innumerable advantages to your ministry to having a family and I don't have a shred of regret over getting married and having kids. I regret we couldn't have had more.
I shared all this with my 19 year-old son. I reminded him what an incurable romantic he was, and I told him I thought he had SO very much to offer some lucky young lady and it would be a shame if he were to deprive her and himself of the joy his mother and I had known.
I could tell I had him pondering, but he shook it off and remained unconvinced. My son had some troubled thinking, but I've got to hand it to him, he was endeavoring to live biblically as a sold-out disciple of Christ.
No matter how smart we are, we can't outthink the Spirit of the Lord. This world has never seen the man who is so wise he doesn't absolutely, desperately NEED the God-breathed Scriptures (although these days, I encounter more and more men who think they're just too smart for the Word of God! Sad to say, I could fill this post with names!)
We tend to think, though, that we can reject God's counsel when we get the idea we've already got something figured out ourselves.
And sometimes our feelings are SO incredibly powerful and seem so very noble and pure that no truly "good" person would dare argue with what we just KNOW in our hearts is right.
But that's why scripture says, "Trust IN THE LORD with all thine heart; lean NOT unto thine own understanding." We'd do well to accept the fact: "God is INFINITE; we is stoopid."
We lose a loved one and we judge God for how He handled the whole matter. And Heaven becomes the longing of our hearts chiefly because we'll be united with that loved one again. And I don't blame us a bit! Those feelings are the most natural in the world, and as powerful as a hurricane (at least, so it feels!).
While Jesus says, "If a man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26).
If you're one of those who knows what it means to outlive your child, you MAY at times feel so strongly, you may be tempted to say, "Then I just don't WANT to be the disciple of one who would ask me to HATE my beloved (insert name)."
Hard, hard, HARD things!!! But let me tell ya; when scripture and I disagree, I am the one who needs an attitude adjustment.
I've developed a few convictions from this Book:
God really IS good, and all-wise, and He LOVES me to a depth and degree I can't even begin to fathom.
But, unlike me, He thinks ALWAYS in terms of ETERNITY. This life is always fooling me into thinking IT is the main event, and I've got to grab all the happiness I can WHILE I can, 'cause I really can't count on ever experiencing anything better.
He will be no man's debtor (Romans 11:35). I can't possibly ever outgive God. He will never demand anything from me that He will not compensate a hundredfold (Mark 10:30).
Knowing Christ intimately is by far the greatest thing of all. Whatever person, place or thing I find most adorable on earth is only a pale picture of how worthy of adoration He is and how utterly satisfying to my heart He will be when I see Him face to face.
When I arrive in Heaven, it will be the Lord Jesus Christ, and not my beloved son, Levi, who will thoroughly fill my vision and quench all my deepest longing.
I LOVE Levi, so very much. I still miss him so bad, it hurts "like a corkscrew on my heart" (B. Dylan) every single doggone day.
But Jesus is "my all in all."
I can tell you something else. My boy, Levi would have preached these same things.
More later, Lord willing.