Today Marks the Day
Can I be honest? As I woke this morning, there was a turbulent war stirring inside me.
Today marks the day. October 9. Three years ago today my dearly beloved, my one and only who I experienced true marital oneness with for 33 years left this earth and went home to heaven. It was a long and valiant fight against a very aggressive leukemia that stole him from our family. Stole him from his amazing life. After all the chemo, after the stem cell transplant, after the paralysis, after fighting through and honoring God in all of it.
David Stoecklein was my person, and I truly do get how amazing it is that I was privileged to have been married to him, to have known what oneness with another human can be. He loved me in a way I struggle to find words to describe. I loved my life with him. We served in ministry together, we raised three amazing children together, we started a church together, we fought the leukemia together. Everything together.
To mark the first year after David’s death, Andrew honored the day with an amazing blog post. It was a precious letter to his dad that meant so much to me on that day, and unspeakably more now. October 9 of year two was kept private. The grieving was still so deep. I thought it may be time to end the blog, but Andrew was more passionate than ever about God’s Got This and how important that message is for people who are struggling, especially those who are questioning God in their pain. The wristbands were still being requested around the world, the stories of the difference they were making were still coming in.
As October 9 approached this year, the complexities of life in this broken world were continuing to intersect with our family in new and confusing ways. Andrew was struggling. With tragic and unjust contributing factors which can be more fully shared at another time, Andrew was struggling. Panic attacks, anxiety, depression, confusion of the mind, medications, doctors with tons of letters after their names but also with deep personal compassion. These were realities the Stoecklein family had never before lived, but we weren’t giving up and there was so much hope. The doctors were assuring us that Andrew was getting better. We saw a beautiful light at the end of the tunnel with incredible hope and excitement for his future, our future, the church’s future.
And then it happened. Just a few weeks before our three-year mark of David’s death, Andrew suddenly, tragically, inexplicably died by suicide. My extremely gifted, loving, brilliant, beautiful son died. That really happened. This amazing young man who had already accomplished incredible things for God in his short 30 years and who held such promise for the future was gone. What? This can’t be happening! How could this have possibly happened? God, hasn’t our family already been through enough? This doesn’t make any sense! We scream the questions. We agonize over the reality.
So, what is this war raging inside of me as I woke this morning? It’s the battle between extreme anger and gentle release; between the haunting questions and a comforting submission; between a tortured existence and hopeful living in the hands of a compassionate God. I could be angry and bitter, poisoning my life and those I hold most dear. I could pretend and live a plastic Christian life, all smiles and positivity full of forced platitudes. “They are in a better place.” “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” “It was meant to be.” Yuck. None of that works for me, at all. OR… or I could be honest and real with myself and admit that I don’t like this at all. That’s true. That’s an honest fact. But even though I don’t like this at all and it doesn’t settle well into my soul (at least not yet), I am going to choose to live this in the gentleness, kindness, strength, and love of God. He is my hope in this confusion. He is my peace in this storm. He is my comfort in this brokenness. I choose Him with each waking day when I am slammed with my broken heart, my tortured mind, and that pit in my stomach that doesn’t go away. I choose to lean closer to God, cuddle up in His lap, let Him love me and comfort me and live this with me. I can’t do this alone. I can’t do this without Him.
I have dreaded today, but I embrace today with all of its disappointments, heartache and questions. I will live today in Christ. I will live today in the hope of heaven. In the reality of eternal heaven where life is fully amazing love and laughter and beauty and joy surrounded by the presence of our amazing God and the dearly beloveds who are already living in that wonderful place created by God for our FOR – EV – VER.
Today I am sad, but I will live in the hope of heaven with a continued purpose for the here and now.
I miss you, David, to the core of my being.
I miss you, Andrew, with agony and grief that is deep and raw.
I trust you, God. Completely. I will honor and serve you with the rest of my days.
Living in God’s rest and peace today because God’s Got This,