The following is a guest post from my niece Abigail McBride. The best word I can use to describe Abby is real. She is purely authentic and shares her love with a pure vulnerability. Because of that quality she is one of the most inspiring, strong women I have the privilege of knowing. When I falter in my faith, I see clearly the strength of my God by seeing His light transparently in her life.. I do not take it lightly that she gives us the opportunity to peer into her soul, and I’m so grateful for a heart that desires to share a message of hope for those of you who might be reading and can find encouragement for your own grieving heart.
Memorial service arrangements.
These are things no 20 year old should have to hear, especially when it’s referring to her husband.
But I did. I heard them, deep down in my soul. I heard the phone call, telling me that I needed to get to the hospital. I heard them tell me that he didn’t make it. I heard them tell me that they had done everything they could. I heard them ask me if I was ready to see him. I heard Liam fussing in the background because he was hungry. But I didn’t feel much of anything. Numbness. The kind that takes over your mind body and soul, trying to desperately shield you from the reality of what you’re facing.
I remember walking in, getting the news. And the only thing I could say was “No”. No this isn’t real. No this isn’t happening. No, no, no. Because, you see. We had plans. Great big beautiful plans. Plans for us, for our house, for our children, for life. But in an instant it was like our plans had never been dreamed. They were just a memory. MY plans. MY life. MY future. And it was all gone. In just an instant.
I walked in and saw him, laying there. He looked so childlike, so innocent and so completely peaceful. I was jealous. I walked in and knelt beside his bed and wrapped my arms around him. I can’t describe what came next, I was immediately calm. I breathed him in. Tracing my fingers over his face. He was with Jesus. I knew that. He was happy. I knew that. He was whole. I knew that. He was complete. I knew that. And somewhere deep inside me I heard a voice say “Abigail, don’t push God away. He is the only one who can get you through this.” Call me crazy, but I know that was from Jonathan. Because in life, he always pushed me closer to Christ. So why wouldn’t, in death, he do the same?
Am I telling you that I haven’t yelled at God? That I haven’t screamed into my pillow in complete despair? Am I telling you that I heard that voice and said “okay God, I’m good. You’re right. I’m fine. This isn’t so bad. This doesn’t hurt like hell. I’m okay with this.” No. It hurts. More than anything, it has completely shaken me to the core. I want MY plans to go back to the way I wanted them. The way WE planned them. I look into my son’s face and I see a little boy who won’t remember his daddy. He won’t remember the bond they had, how he would scream with delight when he saw Jonathan walk through the door. He won’t remember their bedtime stories, their nightly prayers, or going on walks outside. He won’t remember the pride and joy that Jonathan had for him, the look of complete love that he had every time he got to say “this is my son, Liam”. But I remember, and I can’t wait to tell Liam. He loved this little boy so tenderly and strongly at the same time.
I have chosen to put my future in Gods hands. I know his plan is greater than I can imagine. I know he cries when I cry and his heart hurts as mine does. I know he wants his very best for me. I know that he gave me Jonathan for a reason. And now, he’s gone for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is. I know he sees Liam and that he’s going to provide for him. In every area. We don’t always understand why life happens the way it does. And it hurts. It’s incredibly hard to be human. It’s hard to love someone and then have them taken away. It’s hard knowing that you’re going have to explain to a little boy one day why his Daddy isn’t here.
My comfort is found in God. And in remembering Jonathan as a man of God, my best friend, my love, the father of my son. A man who accepted me for who I was. A man who had a servants heart. A man who loved like Jesus did. Jonathan set my standards so high. I know how a man should treat his wife. I know how a man should love his family. I know how a man should treat his children. I know how a man should work. But most of all, I know how a man should love God fiercely. I will continue to thank God for giving me Jonathan, even if it was just for a little while.
I’m not here to preach to you about how when you follow God that it’s going to be a rose garden. It just not that way. There are trials. Trials that make you want to run and hide. But I can tell you this in full confidence. MY God will carry you through. MY God will give you strength you never knew was possible. He gathers up the broken pieces and creates something beautiful, not perfect, and not what you had before. Something different, something that you look at and say “Only God could have done this.” Because, truly. Only he can take the broken and make it whole. The wounded and make them well. The tears and make them smiles.
I can smile because I know that Jonathan is whole and with Jesus. I can smile because he loved me and Liam. I can smile because Jesus promises me that one day I will see Jonathan again. Until that day, I can smile knowing that more than anything, that’s what Jonathan wanted for me.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28, (ESV)