I awoke this morning to the realization that today marks the 5 1/2 year anniversary of Roger's homegoing. (Actually, I had a wee cry last night, thinking about it.) In remembering that significant day, I also began thinking about the 5 1/2 years that have followed. I began tallying up the highs and lows that have presented themselves in that time, and I decided I could look at it in one of two ways. So, in a nutshell, here are my random thoughts:
I'm beginning with the "lows" for a particular reason, so bear with me. In the time since Roger left this world, I've also lost other dear friends and family to death, including my precious Daddy this past May. When I lost Daddy, I had the thought that the only two men who had ever loved me JUST FOR ME were gone now. So I had a pity party about that, followed by a deeper appreciation of the fact that I had them at all, and I had them for much longer than some do. I have made some huge mistakes, including allowing myself to be misled. I have endured fractures in some of my most treasured relationships, and have been blessed to see healing begin again in those same relationships. I have seen a lifestyle that had encompassed my entire adult life be whisked out from under me like a rug being pulled away. I have known loneliness and heartache with no one to hold me and say "I'll take this for a little while; it will be okay." HOWEVER.......
I have also known the "ups" that follow each and every disappointment in life. My "new" life has afforded me some opportunities for service that I simply didn't have time for before now. I love my volunteer work with the National Marrow Donor Program. While I've had to cut back on the number of trips I've been able to help with, because of various circumstances, I see my availability beginning to pick up once again. And, the love that I've always fostered for the elderly has been used in new and different ways, as well. Besides being able to see what my own precious Daddy endured, I now have the blessing of being able to work with other sweet people in The Veranda ministry (see the link from my Facebook page). I've learned new lessons about friendship - the ones who are true, and the ones who needed to be culled. I've developed new friendships from wonderful readers of this blog, who are a huge source of encouragement to me - what a genuine blessing!
God keeps throwing surprises my way, in the form of people and opportunities, and on those days when loneliness creeps up behind me, there is usually a hug waiting in some form. The trials that I've endured while trying to clean up the mess I allowed in a relationship have resulted in the blessing of being in a child's life that I did not expect, but am eternally grateful for.
I didn't list my woes and whining for the purpose of garnering sympathy. I hope you can see the heart that comes into play here. What I am saying is that I have made the CHOICE to REJOICE! As we all could, I could choose to take the trials of my life, and wallow in the pits of despair (and I'm not saying that there aren't days that I stop off there for a little while), staying there and living a miserable, unhappy, unfulfilling, and uninspiring life. Rather, my choice is to take those trials, learn from them, and use them to build a better tomorrow. Lessons in life can be painful, for sure. We can choose what to do with what we learn. I choose to share my trials and the lessons I learn, in the hope that I may encourage someone else who can't yet see the possibility of redemption.
If there is but one thing that I learned from Roger Bennett (and there are plenty more, I assure you!), it is that encouragement is a gift in itself, and by sharing it, it comes back to you in waves that are much more far-reaching than we ever dreamed.
So, Rog, as we continue to celebrate your promotion to Heaven, we remember so well how you still encourage us in your earthly absence. In my own life, I hope that I will better use the lessons you left behind, and grow in the knowledge that my Savior loves me; He wants to guide me; He really cares about me; and He holds me so very lovingly
In His Grip!