Last Friday morning, I watched somewhat numbly as article after article filled my social media feeds, some in celebration, others decrying a national tragedy. After the Supreme Court issued their ruling legalizing same sex marriage nationwide, the world of social media seemed to become a haze of rainbow profile pictures, name calling, and both sides of the “debate” co-opting the “LoveWins” hashtag to draw two conflicting conclusions.
I say I watched numbly as all of this unfolded because my heart had already been broken several hours before the Court issued their ruling, and I frankly didn’t have a whole lot of emotion left to care about what the Supreme Court said about marriage.
Thursday night around 9pm, my father in law passed away after a ten month battle with esophageal cancer.
“Battle.” Personally, I think I am beginning to dislike the term in its association with cancer. Or at least I don’t like the typical implications of it. I don’t like the characterization of my father in law “losing” the battle because he died. Cancer didn’t win. Even in death, God is victorious. Isn’t this the message of the cross?
This was certainly what my father in law believed. My family was blessed—yes, blessed— to be able to witness, over these past few months, a powerful example of suffering and of embracing the cross God gives you.
It also sucked. Watching someone you love suffer is painful. For my father in law’s part, allowing those who love you to watch you suffer is painful. In our being there for one another, we also added to one another’s pain. But you know what? That’s what you do for love.
Sometime over these past few days, a friend on Facebook shared an old blog post of Jennifer Fulwiler’s. It was about “the whole gay marriage thing,” but I found something she said in it to be a comfort in my grief. She said:
“I have converted to the religion of the crucifix, a belief system that promises joy in exchange for losing it all. Most people don’t want to sign up for that. I get that. I hope they consider it, for their own sake, since their lives would be better if they did — but it doesn’t change how I feel about them if they don’t.”
“Joy in exchange for losing it all.”
The message of the cross.
The witness of my father in law’s life.
Yes, sometimes love hurts. We don’t go seeking pain in the name of love, but when the pain inevitably comes, it doesn’t mean it’s not real love. It just means that the time to witness to the depth of your love has arrived.
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”