beautiful chaos

2015.

That year makes my stomach turn a little bit. So much happened that year that made me so much stronger but it also pushed me down to my lowest LOW. Think about your lowest low. Something that happened to you where you just didn’t see a way out. The light at the end of the tunnel was no where in sight. You. felt. helpless.

Welcome to my 2015.

7pm. I remember like it was yesterday. I was on the phone with my boyfriend at the time. worried. My dad wasn’t picking up the phone. He was flying home from Oregon to pick us up to fly back with him for the last part of summer break. Time froze it felt like. That feeling when you know something is wrong, I can’t explain it but if you’ve felt that feeling before you know what I am talking about. Thirty minutes passed. Still no answer.

That day I got the worst answer. That day God decided to take my dad. My dad crashed his aircraft in the ocean and he was never found. Typing that makes my whole body kinda go numb because I still don’t think its real in a way. I still feel like hes on a business trip or something. But it did happen and it was my new, ridiculously crazy reality. I now know the feeling of loosing something that close to you. Whether it be a grandparent, a parent, a friend; someone really close to you. I now understand. I think when people give their condolences to you, they don’t really understand the feeling. Which is totally normal and understandable but its not until you go through that exact same experience that you can say, “I understand, and I am here for you.”

Have you lost someone close to you? Is that why you’re reading this? Or maybe you want to simply know my experience and how I got and still am going through it. Well, you have popped onto the right place. Loosing my dad was the very last thing I would ever think I would have to go through. I honestly felt like there was zero way I could go on with this thing called life but now here I am typing at 1AM about the very thing. If you’re hurting, wondering why/why me, keep on reading.

The day after my dad passed I don’t think I ate anything for three whole days. The idea of drinking water made me want to throw up. I felt an emptiness. A feeling I would never want anyone to feel, ever. I remember being so angry. So, so angry. I believe in God, I believe He does everything for good but I saw no good in this. Why would a all loving God put me, Stephanie, through this. I wanted nothing to do with church, I put prayer to bed, and I was confused. Why my dad? You know?

Why your grandma? Why your grandpa? Why your brother/sister?

So many questions you have no answers to. Oh do I get it. The last thing you want to hear when going through something like that is, “Everything happens for a reason.” I can’t tell you how many times I was told that phrase. That phrase would literally make me want to scream. I knew they meant well, but remember, I was angry. Angry at everything; God, people, and life in general. Now, years later I see it so clearly. Everything DOES happen for a reason. My dad passing away has helped so many people. I have crossed paths with so many people who have gone through the same thing as me and I am able to come beside them and be their crutch. Looking back and seeing how God has used that experience in my life to help others is absolutely crazy. I could list them all out right here, right now but I doubt you want to read a 74839 page blog post. What you are going through, that loss, it hurts so bad but God uses it for His good and the good of others. Yes, it hurts and I don’t think it is ever going to stop hurting but their is so much hope, so much power in your story.

This brings me to my next point which is IT IS OKAY TO CRY. Going through what I did I never wanted to let anyone see me cry. I would go to the bathroom and have a ten minute crying session, get my act together and then go on with my day like everything was perfect. I hid behind this mask, if you will, and it absolutely killed me. Everyone seemed so happy around me that I felt like I couldn’t burden anyone else with my problems. But you know what the great truth is?? EVERYONE has their stuff. Everyone needs to cry sometimes. Its a couple years later and I will hear that song, I will see some guy that looks like my dad and I will breakdown. Like ugly cry, cry. And that is okay. I see it now.

You do not have to act like you have all your ducks in a row and your life is just so happy all the time because thats not realistic. You have to let that emotion out or else it gets bottled up. I mean ask my mom. She would try so hard to get me to talk about my dad/how I have been feeling and what would my answer be … DRUMROLL PLEASE …

“fine”

that was my answer. I encourage you to talk about it, cry about it and be human. You are not invincible. I mean, you can act like it for a while (like I did) until it finally catches up to you. You will be miserable. It took me a good year and a half to finally get around to the crying infront of my mom or friends phase. And it is so healthy to have friends who build you up and are there especially friends who have been there. Make connections, encourage eachother and you can and you will get through.

Come to terms.

Man, that was a tough one for me. When I lost my dad I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to accept it. I would wake up in the morning and then BOOM reality set in. I would go to punch in (760) 486 …. and then remember that my dad was gone. I needed help with my math homework which my dad would ALWAYS help me with but he wasn’t there. I texted my dad one time saying something like how much I missed him. Kinda sending a text to heaven kinda thing. I put my phone down and came back to a text from “dad'.” My heart dropped. I opened the text message and it was from a man who now had his new number saying that he was sorry for my loss. I will never forget that because that was such a real moment. That number I used to text all the time as being my dad on the other end was now some stranger. The reality sank in deeper. I was now having to get used to this new normal. I was adjusting, my family was adjusting and we were all somehow going to get through this together. Once we all accepted his passing thats when we started to work together to pull eachother through. It wasn’t until we gave it to God, and said, “okay Lord, I dont know what you’re doing but I know that you will bring good out of this.”

And so life went on.

I will leave you with this. Grief is not a lightswitch. You can not simply wake up and say “whoops, I gotta turn off my grief switch today.” Allow yourself to hurt and to be sad. Go through the motions if you have to. Make yourself go to class, push yourself to go to work and to be around people. Dont get me wrong, PLEASE take time for yourself but when you do feel ready, go out and keep on keeping on. There is no pause button in life or a rewind button.

You cannot pause life when things go left. You cannot rewind to get that moment back. Cherrish the time you have with those you love, seriously. That family gathering that you dread going to, put the phone down and be with those people. Be in the moment because you don’t realize how important those little moments are until those moments are the only ones you have once that person is gone.

Cling to God. He is the way through the hard times. He put you there but He is also the one who never leaves you. ever. Pray often, and you won’t always get answers and that is okay. Be happy with no answers. Hold onto the truth that God does everything for good and that something beautiful will come out of your struggle. During the few initial months of my grief I listened to so much worship music (and still do). The last song listed here, a part of the lyrics go, “You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things out of us.” And that is so , so true. These are my favorites. Fill your mind with positive, uplifting thoughts. With God you can get through your lowest low.

You Never Let Go - Passion

Before the Morning - Josh Wilson

What Faith Can Do - Kutless

Beautiful Things - Gungor

Today, I am so much stronger. You, are so much stronger. Know you are not alone. There are so many people who know your pain, and want to help you through it. You are capable of getting through so much more than you think you can. When the rug gets pulled out from under you, you don’t have a choice but to tackle it head on, the best way to do that? Cling to Jesus, turn your struggle into something beautiful and just take it a step at a time.

You can be strong because you have a God standing behind you that won’t ever let you go. Through all what seems like chaos, always comes something beautiful. Trust in that.

Stephanie Johnson