If there was only one sentence I could write to all people, to all my descendants, to anyone who might want to know what I lived for and believed in, it would be this: God has a plan for you because He CREATED YOU, LOVES YOU, and wants you to BECOME LIKE Him, and if you have faith in His PLAN you will NEVER have to fear because you will understand that EVERY trial is given so you can KNOW TRUE JOY. (I didn’t say it was going to be a short sentence. :))
There is a scripture that says “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”2 Nephi 2:25 My father and I were once discussing this verse. This was in the first couple years of his debilitating illness, Erdheim Chester disease. He could no longer work as a Civil Engineer and was losing his ability to walk. He was only in his mid 40’s at the time.
He said that although he believed the scripture, he didn’t necessarily believe that it was talking about this life. Maybe the joy was intended for the life after our deaths. He explained a lot of people go through a lot of suffering in this life and don’t feel very much joy. At the time I was driving. My father loved driving and taking trips, but could no longer drive due to his inability to control his legs. I agreed there was a lot of suffering in the world but countered that the suffering was never too much, because God never gave us more than we could handle. My Dad responded that it was too much for some because people killed themselves every year.
It’s been many years since that conversation. Now my Dad is 53 and is tended to 24-hours a day by my mother. He lives in a hospital bed in his own home, except for the occasional trip in his motorized wheelchair. When he does try to spend some time in his chair (which he can only handle for a couple hours because of the pain) my 50 year-old mother gets him in and out of the chair with the help of a machine. This machine has harnesses, chains and ropes to attach to him and lift him with, and looks more like a torture device. He is fed liquids through a feeding tube for his diet. If you’ve read “Tuesdays With Morrie,” you’ll know what bowel movements are like.
His eyes can no longer enjoy the emails they once did, so my mother reads them to him. He still loves getting them! He can no longer speak, but he likes getting phone calls and hearing my voice. In other words, most of his day is spent in pain but he still finds joy.
Some people would argue there is no God, that God would not allow something like this to happen to a good person, a father, a husband, a Christian, in the prime of his life. I argue that this situation proves there IS a God.
My Dad became ill only when someone else in my family was close to death. She had developed a serious eating disorder and given up on life. The doctors had told us to start saying our goodbyes because unless she started eating, she would be gone soon. That was when Dad got sick.
After hearing of his illness, and that it wasn’t certain how long my Dad had to live, she decided she needed to get better. She needed to be around for as long as he was.
All the while, even at the darkest points, my Dad has still been a pillar of hope to me too. If he had not been there, in his condition, humbling me into gratitude, I don’t know that I would still be here. It’s hard to complain about life to someone who can’t walk. It feels pathetic to complain about money to someone who has a terminal illness. Most of all, I knew that if he wasn’t giving up, I couldn’t either.
If there was only one sentence I could write to all people, to all my descendants, to anyone who might want to know what I lived for and believed in, it would be this: God has a plan for you because He CREATED YOU, LOVES YOU, and wants you to BECOME LIKE Him, and if you have faith in His PLAN you will NEVER have to fear because you will understand that EVERY trial is given so you can KNOW TRUE JOY.
My Dad knows that true joy is not in money, power, cars, or worldly success. True joy is found in the relationship he has with my mother. True joy is found in the loving bond they have. She has never left his side, and (if you know my mom) never will. My Dad knows true joy because he saw another loved one recover from her illness so she could be by his side. My Dad’s trials, although painful and difficult, have ultimately strengthened our family and taught us greater joy.
I know that my Dad’s illness was part of God’s plan. His getting ill was part of our family’s trials to give us an opportunity to grow and to specifically give me and the other girl with an eating-disorder, a reason to live. My Dad has said more than once that he would gladly have gone through it all again if it meant giving me and her inspiration to live. Having a father with that kind of love brings me true joy. I would not know that feeling if all of these trials and pains hadn’t happened.
I am so grateful for both my fathers. I am thankful for my father on earth who continues to inspire me every day. I miss his voice and I miss his emails. But I’m grateful I can still write to him and speak to him. And I know he is listening. I am also grateful for my Heavenly Father. He also wants to be part of my life, which is why he’s given me scriptures to read and the power of prayer to share my troubles with Him and ask for strength. I’m grateful I can speak to Him. And I know He is listening too. Two loving Fathers, that is indeed a great reason to be joyful. Luv, Eva