Small.

Growing up with 2 older brothers will regularly remind you of your inferiority, primarily in terms of physical stature.  For me, this reminder was all the more in my face, and what was in my face was really their collar bones as both of my brothers grew to be around 6 foot and 5 inches tall.

I was always small and easy to throw around.  I always needed help with carrying heavy things and reaching tall ones.  I was the go to one to sit in someone’s lap when we only had 4 seats rather than 5.  I was referred to as “little one”.

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Recently, when my Dad suddenly passed away, I felt the very opposite.  Despite the fact that I was only 22 years old, 2 weeks shy of graduating from college, I was making life or death medical decisions, caring for my Mom in the loss of her husband, filing life insurance claims, and really having to be a big girl.

My mom and I talked about a month after everything about just how old we felt.  I told her I felt that on my birthday (the day my Dad passed away), I felt I had aged at least 10 years.  Nothing about me felt only 22.

But here recently, I’ve felt back in that place of being the shortest, the youngest, and the weakest.  I’ve just felt small.


I read a note a very kind and thoughtful friend wrote me the day after she had sat with me as I cried.  In it she said, “I want you to know you can always be small with me.”

And it’s exactly how I’ve felt.  Last week I moved into a new (to me) house.  I got all of my stuff inside and my family headed home and I had this moment when I had to make myself literally focus on breathing one breath at a time because everything hit me at once.  While I’ve had to be so big, inside I am still so small.  There was no part of me that had the energy to unpack and move in, no part of me that felt capable of managing a house and bills, and I just felt really overwhelmed and really small.

But there’s also a sense of being small I’ll never get back.

You see when you grow up having a Dad like mine, there is something about his presence.  Despite the fact that I always feel like I have to have a plan, keep my ducks in a row, and always make sure everyone is taken care of, with my Dad somehow all of that went away.  I knew he was capable.  With him, my mind could rest because I knew he had it all under control, had my best interest in mind, and would do absolutely anything to keep me safe.

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And I feel small when I miss him.

I feel small when I’m doing laundry and think for a second that something in the dryer is his, when I find a dryer sheet and remember how he always thought it was good luck to find a dryer sheet in your clothes.

I miss the feeling of being squeezed so tightly in his chest and knowing just how very safe I was.

I felt small when I popped a tire tonight and had no clue how to change it.  And I feel too small to go to get it repaired without a Dad to call on the other end to help me know what to do.

I’ve tried to tell myself that I’m feeling small so God can show up for me big, but I honestly feel like He just keeps making me smaller. And smaller. And the moment I start to feel like I have everything under control again, something else hits the fan to remind me that I don’t.

That nothing is predictable.  No part of creation is under my planning or supervision.  I am not in charge of my safety or capable of protecting myself.

So what do I do with that?

I’m learning to be small with Jesus in ways I never have before.
I am learning to stop coming to Him offering Him whatever I can muster up and keep pretending to be okay.  I’m coming to Him weak and empty and broken.

And He hasn’t met me in every empty place.

I know that’s not what you want to hear.  It’s not what I want to be saying.

He hasn’t.  Sure, He has been mindful of it and loved me in it, but there have been gaps that I have felt the depths of.  And I think He stays the satisfaction on this side of Heaven to remind us of the brokenness of the world we live in.  We feel the pain of it to remember that despite the beauty of His presence, it is not our complete healing and satisfaction.  Sometimes there are gaps.  Sometimes I sit in my car and cry because my heart gets broken and it just feels like it isn’t surprising anymore.

I’m learning to be small with other people.
I have fought since I could breathe to have it all together for everyone else.  I needed to be the leader, the front runner, the caretaker, whether or not in the spot light.  I have needed to perform, to prove, to measure up and sometimes the ground underneath your feet gets taken.  And I’ve been stripped of this to the point that I have been lost as to how to even interact with people.  I’ve wanted to keep people safe from the depths of the sadness and scariness of my heart, but thankfully blessed friends have pushed deeper.  I’ve learned that ministering to people doesn’t mean being invincible, but being broken with them.  I’ve learned to stop trying to be people’s Savior and remember just how much I need one.

I’m learning that it’s okay to be small.
I remember my brothers getting annoyed at having to help me sometimes.  They didn’t understand why I couldn’t just take care of myself or why I couldn’t just understand what they did.  I remember feeling so bad and telling myself I would just fake it and be big.  When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said “six feet tall.”  I felt shame for being needy and not being good enough and tried to muster up the strength to function at the same level of my two brothers who were older and bigger.  But you can’t function as what you aren’t, at least not without failure and difficulty.  And I’ve tried to be big and strong amidst feeling broken into a million little pieces.  I’m learning to accept that I’m not called to fill every gap.  And that sometimes, the best way to love and care for someone is for me to allow myself to be exactly where I’m at.

I’ve learned to empathize with moments people felt small in Scripture.
I love that God’s Word is not full of people who were constantly put together, but people who were very in touch with their emotions.  I’ve sat and wept with Hannah on the temple steps for her barrenness to the point the priest thought she was drunk.  I’ve felt the pain of Jacob’s heart when he was brought Joseph’s bloody clothes and told his son was killed.  I’ve agreed with David as he pours his heart out to God saying, “Darkness is a better friend than you.”  I’ve understood where Mary was coming from when Jesus came to town after Lazarus died and she didn’t go to Jesus, but stayed in her house.  And I’ve understood where Martha was coming from when she went right to Him and chewed Him out.

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I’m learning that “you can’t experience full recovery until you let your pain be fully uncovered”.
I’ve wanted to tie this up with some truth or hope.  We like resolution and happy endings that make all of the pain worth it.  The hard part, is sitting in the reality of not having a resolution.  Hard parts that characters of Scripture can empathize with us in, like Job, Stephen, Ruth, Jesus, etc.  I’ve wanted to “hide my crazy” and just be okay.  But you can’t be something you’re not, without failure or difficulty.  Our Western brains have been told to find whatever 3 step system we can to healing, wholeness, and wellness and sometimes the best thing for us is to just allow ourselves to be what we are- small.

Father’s Day

I’ll be taking a bit of a hiatus from the internet this weekend as much as possible.

It’s just too hard, too recent, too impossible to swallow.  And I think that’s how it’s going to be for a while.

Almost 2 months ago my Dad passed away suddenly from a heart attack.  He was truly the sweetest and most selfless man you could ever meet.  It was my 22nd birthday and I was 2 weeks away from graduating, yet there in the hospital none of that mattered as he breathed his last breaths.

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I loved that man with all my heart, as he loved me.  I still do.  He was the most selfless, kind, and hilarious guy.  I would give absolutely anything in the world for one more of so many things- to hear his laugh, to hug him, to hear him say “baby girl”.

I’m grieving all of the ways I’m having to learn to live without him, all of the moments in my future I envisioned him there for that will look different, and all of the memories that make me treasure and miss him all the more.  I just miss him.

I can honestly say that a day has not gone by in the past 2 months when I haven’t thought about him, when I haven’t cried, and when I haven’t felt like my world has been absolutely turned upside down.


There is a big part of me that has a hard time tying any of this into lessons to be learned, because it’s hard to place any kind of closure or conclusion on a hurt that feels so raw and feels that it deserves time to be raw.

But there are two sides of the coin that’s been specifically on my heart this week.

  1. Dads, please love your daughters.

To know me is to know that I deeply loved my Daddy. There were few moments I treasured more than going to lunch with him, seeing a movie with him, or just spending time with him.  I loved doing ministry alongside of him.  I loved watching him love and serve everyone around him so well.

But to know me well is to know that my relationship with my Dad wasn’t always easy.  I was always a Daddy’s girl when I was little.  He was just so captivated by me for no reason at all.  I kind of took advantage of it like any baby girl would.  I remember he got a brand new truck when I was 4 that terrified me because it was so tall.  So to get over my fear, he sat with me in the front seat and showed me how I could press all of the buttons on the radio.  All of his programming was reset and I was sold that I could ride in this big, scary truck after all.

But as I transitioned into being a teenage girl- a dark and scary journey- our relationship became all the more strained.  I blamed him for some issues in my own heart and he had to prioritize some things going on at work and we eventually reached a point that we weren’t even on speaking terms.  It’s hard to imagine now.

But I remember being wrecked by it.  I was so mad at him and so hurt by him, yet desperately craving a relationship with him.  And my Dad, being the loving, selfless guy that he was, talked with a staff member at our church and began pursuing me.  He wrote me letters about what he loved about me.  Things I never thought he noticed.  He found things we could do together and we did them constantly.  He gave me space to talk about ways I was hurt by him and he cried and told me he loved me.

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The thing is, you don’t have to be perfect to be a good Dad.  In a lot of ways, you just have to be there.  And please don’t give up.  Go to her games and recitals and look up from your e-mail on your phone.  Ask her how her day was at dinner.  Spend some time with some of her friends.  Your presence and your interest in your daughter’s life can truly make a world of difference.

The unfortunate truth is that we truly don’t know what tomorrow holds.  I watched my Dad fight for his life on a ventilator for a week until he breathed his last breath.  Despite the fact he was completely brain dead, he fought to keep breathing, until the exact moment I turned 22.  There is something innate inside of you that is roaring to love your little girls.  Don’t let it be stifled by work, busyness, pride, or unforgiveness.  Love her with all you have with all the time you have.

2. Absence teaches you a lot of things.

I never imagined to face an absence this real and this final so soon.   I selfishly would do anything in the world to reverse it.  But it has taught me so very much.

This past year I’ve focused greatly within the context of my job on “identity in Christ” and the concept that we are “image bearers” of Christ (Genesis 1:27).  I’ve said the phrase a million times and talked about how cool it is that we were created to reveal God.

This idea has truly become extremely tangible for me in the past 2 months as I’ve thought of all the ways I bear my Dad’s image.  I don’t exactly look like him.  I kind of look like my mom spat me out.  But gracious, does his personality come out in me more in more.  We are type A to the core, passionate about responsibility, always aware of time and scheduling conflicts, and always talking to ourselves while we work.  I’ve even grown to love the way my ankles sometimes pop just like his did, walking on hardwood floors.  I value these things and seek to resemble his humility, love, and passion to those around me because carrying on his legacy is so very important to me.

It wasn’t until now that I’ve felt not only the honor but the demand to be an image bearer not only of my earthly father but my Heavenly Father, carrying His character to a world that I want to know Him.

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Beyond this, absence magnifies the space that was once filled.  There was nothing about my Dad that was small.  He was a tall guy with a big heart.  He had great big eyes that welled up with great big tears whenever you shared anything with him.  He didn’t do anything small, whether it was loving and serving our family, our Church, or a stranger he came into contact with.

From this big absence, I’ve only come to know and wrestle more and more with just how much we were created for presence, for God’s presence with us in the garden, for the presence of the people around us, for death to never exist, and the grave to never be necessary.

But above all of this, absence makes you treasure.  You treasure what you miss and what you long for.  I treasure my Dad’s generosity and compassion.  I treasure his ability to fix absolutely anything.  I treasure his ability to make me laugh.  I treasure that I had a family for 22 years that was whole.

Absence has taught me that no one has resembled Jesus more to me than my Daddy did in loving me, caring for me, providing for me, protecting me, and relentlessly pursuing me.

Dad’s, you are one of the greatest image bearers of God in your children’s lives.  The week my Dad went on to be with Jesus, my whole family got tattoos of his last recorded heart beats.  I got mine on my right arm in the exact spot where he would have held my arm to walk me down the aisle, should I get married one day.  But right in the middle of those words, I had the word “faithful” written in cursive.  My Dad has truly defined faithfulness for me.  As I was writing his eulogy that I delivered at his funeral, I honestly had to go back and take the word out a couple times because of just how fitting it was.  He was faithful to give his all at work.  He was faithful to serve in the Church.  He was faithful to sacrificially love his family.  He was faithful to honor and love his wife.  He was faithful to always put a smile on your face with a terrible joke he would belly laugh delivering.  He was faithful.

If I’m honest, believing God is faithful has been one of the absolute hardest things for the past 2 months.  It hasn’t really felt true at all.  But if God claims to be faithful and it means anything comparable to the way my Dad was faithful, then I can trust it.


I would give anything for another Father’s Day with him, or any day really.  But as much as my Daddy fought, this was a lack I had to feel and a hurt I had to bear.  And it is one I know I would have never had the strength to face, had my Dad not strengthened me by his love and his presence.  And one I could have never faced without the strength and presence of my Heavenly Father whose image He somehow allows me to bear in my weakness.