In Retrospect: 13 Years Later

Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning. —
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness.
— Psalm 30:5b, 11

Thirteen years ago today, my world changed drastically. Thirteen years ago today, I lost my best friend. Thirteen years ago today, I learned one of the hardest lessons I ever could — but thirteen years ago today, God took something terrible and began using it to make me stronger. Bolder. Kinder.

This is not going to be a lengthy post, nor is it going to be a sad post. This is simple a post of remembrance — an acknowledgement of the impact that my father has had on my life — and a moment to sit and rest in the knowledge that one day, I will see him again.

What is joy?

Joy, to me, is the expression of more than happiness — more than a feeling. A state of the heart.

Sometimes I have trouble finding joy. I let myself get bogged down. Sadness. Loneliness. The feeling of being unloved, undesired, unwanted. Being overwhelmed. Exhausted. Never being enough. I take on all these negative feelings and get so mired down that I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to ever get back up again.

But joy.

When you’re eight years old and your joy disappears, it can be really hard to get it back.

I was an eight-year-old Daddy’s girl who wouldn’t go to bed at night until he sang “Edelweiss” and kissed me. He was my best friend… the man who carried pictures of his two little girls in his lab coat to show to all of his clients. The man with the big red diesel truck. The man who took me (yes, me) to gun shows every year. Tall and strong and an earnest lover of toasted pb&j, Snackwells, and chicken chimichangas, there wasn’t a more wonderful man in the world.

If it weren’t for Rick Lange, I would not be the girl I am today. His faith — and the way he lived for Christ… to this day I cannot think of anyone who personified a true follower of Christ more so than did he. His heart sought to pursue God, and his life reflected that. And that… that is where I find my joy.

See, my heart broke when I lost my best friend… but he left me so much. Not only did he leave me with a mother and a sister who love me more than I could ever ask or expect, but he left me with memories and the knowledge that my father was a good man. A great man. A man who loved the Lord and was doing all he possibly could to bring Christ to the world.

And that… that is more than anyone could ask for.

My joy does not come from worldly things. It doesn’t come from silly songs or big surprises or those tiny little special moments… my joy comes from knowing that I am blessed. From working through sadness to see that those things that hurt the heart are also the things that help us grow. That is where I find my joy.

I still remember big hugs. Singing Carly Simon in the car. Driving to Iowa or that cabin in Crossville. Shooting hoops in the driveway, or trying (and failing) to bike without my training wheels. Eating at Fujis… running around the animal clinic. Precious moments that I won’t let go of easily. And yet, I know, without a doubt, that I will see him again one day… and that, my friends, is a beautiful thought.

Blessed. Loved.


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