The pastor asked if anyone wanted to share something at the funeral, and she stood up, shaky and brave.
“My dad and I have had some tough times ever since I was a teenager,” she said. “The last time we talked we got into an argument, and I hadn’t spoken to him in two years. Suddenly all those hurts don’t mean anything if I could have him back one more time for one more conversation. While he was laying in the hospital in a coma I was able to tell him I was sorry and that I still love him. I don’t know for sure if he even heard me, but maybe it was more for me to be able to hold his hand, kiss his cheek and tell him one more time ‘Daddy I love you.’ In my heart I have truly forgiven my father for all those past hurts and I hope before he passed he was able to forgive me.”
A few sniffles echo in the quiet church sanctuary.
She cleared her throat and pushed on, her voice growing stronger.
“But what I want to say to you is do not wait to fix broken relationships. But I also want to say don’t hold onto your hurts and withhold forgiveness from the ones you love, you may never get the chance to mend it. Leave this funeral today and go make it right as best as you can. You don’t know if you have an hour, or a day, or a week. My time ran out. Yours doesn’t have to. I have the peace that comes from God, that one day I will see my father again in heaven and everything will be understood. Thank you Lord, for loving me and my father in spite of us. Thank you God, for forgiving us even when we couldn’t forgive each other, and thank you Jesus for making a place in Your Father’s house for me and my father.”
My cousin sits back down in her pew.
In the past year, my family has lost six family members. Some deaths were anticipated due to old age and ill health. Other deaths came swiftly and unexpectedly.
And it’s got me wondering what kind of impact will my life — and death — have? What will I leave behind?
Will I leave behind unresolved relationships filled with bitterness and regret at my passing? Or will my family know without a shadow of a doubt my love for them through my words and actions? Will I do all within my power to not let strife destroy my dearest relationships?
Out of all the deaths our family experienced over the past year, two of them involved estranged relationships between a parent and adult child. Parents made choices that hurt their children so deeply that wounds were never healed while both were living. Differences weren’t worked through. Relationships were cut off. Angry words were spoken. Forgiveness was withheld.
I do not want that legacy.
As a parent to three young children, it has been a sharp reminder that eventually all relationships end in death. “In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die / And where you invest your love, you invest your life,” sing Mumford and Sons in “Awake My Soul.” I want to invest my love — through words and actions — in my family and make sure they feel valuable and securely loved.
I’m very aware I will not do this perfectly. I will wound and speak angry words. I will not always be patient and kind because my love is not perfect. But I know the One who is perfect and His Holy Spirit resides in me. I’m trusting that as I nurture my relationship with Jesus and keep close to Him, He will guide me in all my other relationships. His love is the only love that never fails. When I fail and wound others, I pray He’ll help me bind those hurts up. To put in action Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Because you’ll never know when time will run out. When the car doesn’t stop at the intersection, or the heart attack hits in the church parking lot.
Because sometimes the only time you have is today.
[This post first appeared over at iBelieve in 2014.]
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
Get Our Free Ebook!
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions
The Psalms is a book that's rich with the reality of what life's like in this fallen world. Here are...
3 Ways to Navigate Personality Differences
Sometimes personality differences can wear on us. Here are three ways we can navigate them in a loving manner.
Surprised By ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
If you haven't seen this film, God may speak to your heart through it in ways you weren't expecting.
The Wedding Ring
Are you struggling in your marriage? Here's how a wedding ring helped one wife fight for her marriage.
5 Ways to Live an Out-of-Control Life
Here are 5 ways to let go of control and trust your present and your future to God.
5 Creative Places to Find Prayer Accountability
Do you want to pray more, but are easily distracted? Here are some practical ways to stay focused.
How to Rescue a Day Gone Wrong in Your Marriage
Just because a day doesn't start well, doesn't mean you can't rescue it.
What Women Are Saying
--Rachel Starr Thomson, author of Heart to Heart: Meeting With God in the Lord's Prayer
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.
Faith4 years ago
When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds
Motherhood4 years ago
Surviving a Strong-Willed Child
Faith5 years ago
7 Ways to Create A Family Altar
Friendship6 years ago
Beyond the Registry: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expectant Parents
Relationships4 months ago
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Marriage6 years ago
4 Reasons I’m Not Facebook Friends With My Husband
Everyday Faith5 years ago
6 Simple Ways to Give Thanks in the Thick of It
Articles5 years ago
10 Ways Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
Articles7 years ago
How to Lift Up the One You Love
Articles5 years ago
Relationships9 months ago
Facing Our Motherhood Fears
Digging Into Scripture3 weeks ago
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions