"E" is for Eternity

Grateful April in the A-Z Blogging Challenge

Two days ago, I was visiting with a friend who said, "So, do you know what your "E" topic will be?" At that time, I hadn't yet written "D," so if you've gotten familiar with me through my writing, then you know I rarely think ahead, much less plan my blog topics ahead. 

Scarlett O'Hara and I don't like to think about anything today. We like to wait until tomorrow.

Later that same night, I was in the middle of my spin class when it hit me: "E" for me must stand for Exercise! And that was the plan. Look at me, barely out of the gate with "C" and I already had "E" planned. I spun a little faster, wiped the sweat from my eyes, and enjoyed a moment of smug satisfaction. Yes, I was grateful to exercise for keeping my body healthy.

But this is why Scarlett and I procrastinate--nothing good ever comes when I plan ahead, and all it took to change my mind this time was my road trip to a funeral on Thursday. 

The casket was open, so my little family and I sat in the back, but the pain emanating from the front rows was like an earthquake sending emotional shock waves underneath the carpet. My kids had lost their grandfather, my husband--his father, and to the rest of the family, their leader. The grief in the room was like a heavy, uncomfortable quilt--comforting because you were sharing it, but hot and suffocating. You wanted to kick it off, but you knew if you did you'd get cold. And nobody wants to be cold when they are grieving.

I'd had my own losses lately, so my spiritual muscle felt strong. I exercised it a lot during my own grief, pumped so much supernatural iron that I was prepared to lift my family during this life changing event. I had all the King's horses and all the King's men, and I was ready to put their sad pieces back together again.

As I sat and listened to each person get up and speak and felt their excruciating grief, just one word came to mind: Eternity. In that moment, I knew my "E" had changed.

My theme this month is gratitude, so when I first imagined the topics on which I could write using each of the 26 letters of the alphabet, I knew if I wasn't careful I'd spend much of my blogs in one direction: "F" for Faith, "G" for Grace, "H" for Heaven, "J" for Jesus. I didn't want to do that. I want to recognize my faith, but I'd also like to focus on some of the blessings He has given me.

But then, as I sat and faced Papa's end of life, I remembered that even though we consider our earthly life everything, it was only the end of the smallest, most insignificant chapter of his existence. Because of his faith, the life awaiting Papa has no end -- just a beginning. When he took his last breath here on earth, his next breath was Heavenly air.

Eternity: That for which we do not deserve but is made available to us as a gift. Believers don't face the end with fear, and survivors needn't worry about what awaits them. Eternity is a party where the guests are eagerly waiting behind couches, in closets, and hiding among the clouds waiting to flip on the light switch and scream "hooray!" just as the light switch here on earth goes off.

I like to think that our loved ones are guests of honor at a huge celebration. You made it! You're here! Finally! We're so happy to see you!

Eternity: Heaven's assurance that we will see our loved ones again and not for just a set number of years. On earth, we are conditioned to know that people don't live forever, but it hurts. It stings to say goodbye. We expect it, but it's never easy. We walk around with a loved-one shaped hole in our hearts.

But in Heaven, I'm not sure the word goodbye exists. In Heaven, there is eternity--and that is a word that has no end.

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