Missed Connections

I experienced a tragedy a few years ago when my father went to be with Jesus. In the midst of my mourning, I also found myself mourning something else – repeated failed attempts to give something of myself to my dad, a poem or prose to honor him, and to express my thoughts and feelings. Even before he died, I was searching myself for inspiration to write something as my way to honor my dad.

But sadly, nothing surfaced. I tried penning a few poems, but to no avail. I doubled my efforts in the days following my dad’s passing, as I was hoping to have something ready for his funeral. It really bothered me that I was having such a hard time writing even a simple poem.

A little over a year before my father died, a wonderful woman in my church went to Heaven. I had known Stephanie and her family for almost 20 years. We were not close or anything, but our families knew each other from church. The morning following the news, I wrote a really nice poem for her and gave it to the family. So why couldn’t I do the same for my dad?

The answer = relationship. I had a relationship with Stephanie Barnes: we attended the same church for over ten years, I went to the same school as her girls (though they were a good 10 yrs younger than me), and again attended the same church up until she died. The relationship was not close knit, but I still knew her.

I cannot say the same thing for my dad. The past had long ago been forgiven, but that did not magically create a relationship. As I listened to friends and family give testimonies about dad, I realized just how much I really did not know him. The poem I was trying to write would not come because I did not have anything to draw from. I need to know dad; and more, I needed relationship with him.

The truth is, we all need relationship…it’s in our bones, literally. God made us in His image, and made us to desire relationship – that is why Adam was lonely even though he walked with God every day and was surrounded by every animal imaginable. So God took a bone and gave him a companion. Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to “forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” While that verse is certainly referring to coming together for church, I think Paul was also exhorting believers to not forsake relationship with one another as well.

My new church in Tulsa has, in addition to weekly services and activities, small group meetings called Connect Groups. There is a Connect group for every age group, married couples, singles, divorced members, single parents, different nationalities (including Native Americans), different biblical topics – you name it. The pastors understand how important it is for Christians to connect with one another, especially in a church of several thousand members.

We were not made to be loners – we need people, and people need us. My dad was able to bring his family (or most of us anyway) back together again. I reconnected with cousins and uncles/aunts whom I have not seen in almost 20 years. We have all vowed to not let each other slip away again. It took this tragedy to remind us how fragile life is, and how important we are to each other.

Thanks Dad – for bringing us all back together.

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