My uncle was an incredible human being. I must admit, it pains me to write about him in past tense. I want to speak to those of you who have lost loved ones. This is something, that until very recently, I couldn't really relate to. I have lost older family members to old age and sickness, and while I am NOT making light of losing someone in that manner, I can say that someone unexpectedly taken away from you in the blink of an eye by a "freak accident" just takes your breath away. I know many of you aren't followers of Christ, so I want to speak to you as well. When stuff like this happens, it is easy to question God or to just question life in general if you do not follow God or talk to Him. It is times like these that your brain can go absolutely insane...especially if you are an over-analyzer, like me. Here is a glimpse of my brain: WHY???? This can't be. This isn't happening. Uncle Mark is so young, no. He is in shape....he's not sick. This isn't true. He has a wife and kids...2 kids that he and his wife adopted from China, I might add. Why is this happening? No. He was jogging....trying to take care of his body. NO. This isn't happening. He is just hurt, and he will get better. Denial. Shock. Rage. Tears. Some of these emotions are extreme, to the nth degree.
Have any of you ever experienced these feelings? These thoughts? Those moments where your brain won't stop? How about that headache you get from the never ending tears?
It is easy to get gripped by fear. Everyone grieves in a different way. You might be the person who cries and cries. You might be the person who talks it out. You might be the person that sits there quietly. You might be the person who likes to just get alone and be by yourself. You might cling to pills. You may cut. Drugs. Alcohol. Food. We all have our vice.
Thank the Lord for His promises and His word, because this is the ONLY rock on which I stand and the only reason I have made it through this week. Painful situations and suffering seem to be the times I grow the most with God. Don't get me wrong, I love Him during the good times, but seriously...I cling to Him during the bad times. It's crazy how God's plans are so incredible. I can't even begin to wrap my mind around why Uncle Mark's life ended that way. Some would even be mad at God. The thought could be something as simple as "God, why would you let his life end this way?" I am not going to look at Uncle Mark's life like that, and I am not going to succumb to those thoughts. Look at what the Lord makes so clear to us in His word in Psalm 139:13-16
"For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them."
These words are a comfort for me, and I will explain why:
God formed us. He formed everything about us and wove us into our mother's womb. That is so incredible to me. Whether we have blonde hair, brown hair, red hair, or no hair. Whether we are outgoing, shy, loud, quiet, have green eyes, or blue eyes. Each of us was created by God's hands, and no matter what you think about yourself, you were fearfully and wonderfully made. We were not hidden from God. We were made in the secret place. God's eyes saw us before we were even formed, and all of our days were written in His book.
While my heart is sad because I don't get any more days on this earth with my Uncle Mark, I know some facts about him that cheer me up. To start, Uncle Mark was created by God, wonderfully and fearfully. Some look at being deaf as being "disabled." I look at it as a unique way that God created my uncle. I have been so touched at how many people a deaf man could touch. For those that consider deaf people disabled, just google my uncle's name. He touched countless people without ever physically "speaking" a word. Pretty incredible. God formed my uncle in the secret place, and He skillfully planned his days. Selfishly, I don't like that his life is over, but I know it was part of God's plan. Right now, I can't necessarily see what all of that good is, but let me tell you, much good has already come. Also, we don't know what could have happened had my uncle lived. Maybe God prevented something worse happening. Maybe he prevented his entire family from going through something awful in Boston. It's hard to think about such things, but you never know. We weren't created to know. We are not God. We do not know His plans. This is where faith and trust kicks in.
I could never cope with Uncle Mark's death without God's amazing promises and love. I would be a basketcase. I would be angry. I would have nothing to live for. I would be bitter. I would loathe. I would hate. Right now, I have to focus on the positive.
How about the fact that my uncle has two beautiful children that he raised with my aunt, and that he instilled so many incredible traits in them at such a young age?
How about the fact that he got the opportunity to go climb Mt. Everest at such a young age?
Or the fact that he spent time doing something he loved....skating?
Or the fact that he decided to start Mark Skateboards when I'm sure there were a few naysayers.
Or the fact that he was an organizer of TedxIslay?
|Image from TedXIslay website. Click here for more info.|
Or the fact that he had basically just completed his PhD and had just accepted a job as assistant professor at Boston University?
In case you can't tell, my uncle was cool. In fact, he was rad. A teacher, an administrator, a father, a husband, a friend, a skater, a shoe-lover, a loyal person. He didn't know a stranger. He wouldn't hurt a fly. He was smart, but he could kick back and laugh. I mean seriously, there just aren't many people that are like him. He wasn't stiff. He wasn't proud. He would never ever ever make you feel like you were lower than him, although most of us aren't even half as smart as him (ha)! He had style. He could surf. He made you feel important when you talked to him. He had a way with kids and he could totally carry on a conversation with any adult. I could go on and on about him, but honestly, now I want to ask about you.
Do you know where you're going after you die? Do you know what you live for now? What is the point of your existence? Is it just so you can go on about your business, do what you want to do, and then just die? Do you think there's more to life? I want you to know what you live for. I want you to think about these things. These are things that matter. These are things, that need to be thought about now, because unfortunately, one day, it could be too late. Do you live for Jesus? Do you want to know more about Him? You don't have to be a stiff loser to be a follower of Christ. You don't have to feel deprived or live a life full of rules and boring, mundane days. You can be a radical Christian. You can be that contagious person that people want to be around. You can provide joy to others and relief when people are going through awful things, such as dealing with death. You can have peace that surpasses all understanding. All you have to do is confess that Jesus is Lord, and BELIEVE in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. It is quite simple. It is just the start of an amazing, new, free life that you can have. If you would like to read more on that, those words came from Romans 10:9:
"if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved"
Sorry, I know I was kind of all over the place, but I wanted to be raw with you. I am hurting inside. I do miss my uncle, but I trust in the Lord alone. In He and He alone I find peace, rest, and refuge. I want you to have the same. Uncle Mark would want you to have the same. I am always up for a conversation. I can be emailed at email@example.com and can try my best to answer any directions or point you in the direction of what the Bible says about you.
I say all of this out of love...nothing else. I am not trying to beat anyone over the head or trying to make anyone feel condemned. Please feel free to share this with any of your friends who either knew or didn't know Mark. Mark often spoke about leaving your mark, and I am going to follow his lead :)