Wedding Tears

Over 2 years ago, the tsunami of my father’s death crashed upon me, after which through God’s strength, I kicked my way to the surface, gasping for air. The water roared and foamed (Psalm 46:3) almost relentlessly that following year, sometimes wearying my soul and sapping my strength until all I could do was the dead man’s float, with God as my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

Eventually the seas settled into life without dad. But every once in a while, an immense wave will crash into me from seemingly out of nowhere. Father’s Day was a few weeks ago, and I was in a place of gratitude much more than grief for my dad. But then, last week, I traveled by Camp Pendleton, where as a child, I spent many a weekend with my family at the beach fishing, swimming, building sandcastles, toasting marshmallows and making s’mores by the campfire, and sleeping in our RV. This weekend, we came to Seattle for a wedding. During my childhood, every summer we would drive leisurely up and down the West coast in our RV, fishing, eating, and spending quality family time together, with Seattle as our destination. One of my dad’s favorite sayings was, “work hard, play hard!”

My dad was expressive with his affection, and yes, with his anger, but rarely with his tears. I can only remember 3 specific times seeing him cry. Once was at his mother’s funeral. Another time was when I was hospitalized. The third was at our wedding as he was walking me down the aisle. My father loved and respected my to-be husband Peter, but his tears, I imagine, were about losing “his baby.” “My baby!” is what he said when we got engaged. On my wedding day, his tears to me felt a deep expression of love and protection, yet his walking me down the aisle was his willingness to love me enough to let me go to Peter.

Yesterday was also my father’s birthday. When I saw the father-of-the-bride walking the bride down the aisle, suddenly I found myself flooded with memories of walking down the aisle with my father. I began to sob, engulfed with grief for my earthly father. My dear husband sensed what was happening and the Father of mercies and God of all comfort used Peter to buoy me as this wave of grief threatened to capsize me. Another wave struck as the father-of-the-bride broke into tears several times while toasting the newly married couple.

This morning, my heart is still aching, though not with yesterday’s intensity. As I lament, I find myself reminded again of the Giver of the gift of my earthly father, since I have counseled so many people that have not known their father, lost their father earlier in life, or had difficult relationships with their father. I remember that I am blessed and the kingdom of God is mine, because I am poor in spirit (Matt 5:3). I put off fears of the state of my earthly father’s soul, and am renewed in the spirit of my mind with putting on faith toward the perfect character of my heavenly Father.[1] I am reminded that God cares about my suffering so much that my tears are kept as precious things in a bottle (Psa. 56:4) and He does not afflict from His heart (Lam 3:33). And I know that one day, He will wipe away every tear from my eye, and death shall be not more, no more mourning, crying, or pain, for the former things will have passed away (Rev. 21:4).

Psalm 18:1–6 

   I love you, O Lord, my strength.
   The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
   I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.

   The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
   the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.

   In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.

[1] Genesis 18:25 “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”

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