Yesterday we went to church. The topic was idolatry. The pastor was giving examples of some of the things that can become idols in our lives. He was trying to think outside the box of money and the typical things, but he went a step too far. He said our children can become idols in our lives. Our children can take the rightful place of God in our lives.
From the moment I strapped Kayla into the car seat for the first time, I gladly dedicated my very being to her happiness. I would do anything for her, including laying down my life. My life became secondary. The only thing important was taking care of that girl and doing everything in my power to make her happy and keep her safe. I made the same commitment to Shayna. Before I had children, I had heard about the unconditional love of God, but I never understood it. All other “loves” in our lives are conditional. Only the love of a parent for a child is truly unconditional. We love God by loving people. We serve God by serving people. People are the representation of God on Earth. As a parent I pour everything I have into my girls. I would empty myself out if possible. The pastor talked about going to their soccer games on Sunday morning rather than going to church as if that short changes God. I have news. God doesn’t need your “worship”. You’re not short changing God by spending time with the people He has given you to take care of. I could not love my girls any more and I’m perfectly OK with that.
As I have been studying grief, I came across an analogy given by an grief expert. It’s one I came up with on my own just a few days ago. We do become addicted to certain people in our lives and losing them is like quitting a drug cold turkey. So, while I’m not going to say that Shayna is an idol in my life, I will say that, yes I am absolutely addicted to her physical presence. For 15-½ years I knew where she was virtually every waking moment. If she wasn’t in the forefront of my mind, she was just underneath the surface. I loved her beautiful face, her voice, the way she would touch me, stroke my arm, play with my ears. I loved kissing her cheek good night every night. I loved the sound of her giggling with her sister. Yeah, I am addicted to all of that. And thinking about it, realizing it has been suddenly snatched away, impacts my brain chemistry. It sends physical spasms through my body. It makes me angry, frustrated, sad, despondent. And, nothing else will do. There is nothing to take her place.
Ty, of course, has a big place in my heart. Kayla has a big place in my heart. Shayna has a place in my heart, a place nothing else can fill. When I think about her not being here I just want to die. I have to remind myself that Ty and Kayla need me. The pastor quoted Blaise Pascal’s God shaped hole line. “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” That’s clever. There is also a Shayna shaped hole in the heart of Brian. It cannot be filled by any created thing other than Shayna. And no that is not blasphemy. It is not idolatry. It is the love of a father for his daughter, the closest thing there is to the love of God for us.