“Because I was a Christian, homeschooled, only child, I spent a lot of time around my parents. To my benefit, that meant I had a lot of chances to see the gospel play out in every aspect of my life. From both of my parents, I heard stories over and over about the way God loves His people. At a young age, my dad and I had conversations about Jesus dying on the cross for me and for my sins. And at seven years old, I gave my life to Christ.
“A number of factors, including my schooling, a performance-driven desire to know the Bible, and my sport of choice (karate), contributed to an isolation from others. I even felt isolated in my sin, thinking I was the only person who struggled the way I did. Often, I thought I was better than the people around me, and my childhood became marked by self-centeredness and a lack of empathy.
“While my teenage years were spent learning more of the Bible, what I learned was not reflected into different aspects of my life, like my relationships with my parents. I was extremely rebellious and wanted to do life my own way. My relationship with my dad became especially challenging and strained.
“I had the opportunity to go to a Christian summer camp when I was 17, and this was the first time I was surrounded by Christian peers who were actually living out their faith in every area of their life. They were open and honest about sin struggles, and that made me feel less alone and isolated in my own sin.
“In the same summer, one of our fellow counselors unexpectedly passed away. I admired and respected this friend’s faith and how he lived for Christ. His death made me reflect on my own life and relationship with Christ. I dove into Ecclesiastes 7, trying to learn why the day of death is better than the day of birth. I didn’t want to just say what I believed, I wanted to learn how to live as a Christian.
“At home, my relationship with my dad continued to be a challenge. Our relationship divided even more when, against his wishes, I chose to drop out of college. Shortly after, I was offered a job in Seattle and had full plans to move there.
“In the same week of my job offer, I learned of my dad’s cancer diagnosis and his new timeline of life. To my shame, I lacked much empathy for his situation and frankly didn’t care. I continued to make plans to move with the intention of coming back shortly before his death.
“The Lord brought me conviction and direction to stay in Dallas after an unexpected conversation with a friend’s dad. He reminded me how important a relationship with my dad is – and how it can directly affect my relationship with and view of the Lord. I decided to cancel my work contract to be close to family and to rebuild a relationship with my dad in the last season of his life.
“With this decision, I was gifted a ton of time with my dad. We took the opportunity to be authentic with each other and hear each other’s life stories. I was reminded of his lifelong faithfulness to the Lord. I experienced and felt my dad’s love for me, even despite how I had treated him as a rebellious son. Those last seven months with my dad were some of the sweetest times of my life.
“It’s been four years, and I still miss my dad. I miss having someone to call when my car breaks down. When I changed jobs, I wanted to tell him because I knew he would be excited. When I met a beautiful girl named Sarah, I wanted to call him to tell him. When I asked her to marry me, she said yes, and I wanted him to be there.
“Grief has been hard, but what is true is that I have a heavenly Father who loves me, who cares about me, and who listens to my prayers.
“More than that, I can rest in the truth of the gospel: We have a God who has defeated death. Though we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and were separated from Him, He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us. Being perfect, He rose again on the third day, defeating death. Romans 10:9-10 says, ‘If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved…’
“When I now consider Ecclesiastes 7, I have a better understanding of why the day of death is better than the day of birth. I see that true life is found in Christ Jesus. I have a good God who is in control, saved me, and cares for me as a father does. With my dad’s death, I’ve gained a new view of who Christ is and how He brings life.”
The holidays can be a hard season if you have experienced the loss of a family member or friend. Watermark's grief recovery ministry is hosting a one-time event, Surviving the Holidays, to offer encouragement and hope to adults (18+) as they navigate the holidays after the death of a loved one.