It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;
Matthew 20:26-27 NASB
This past Good Friday turned out to be a Good Friday like no other ones I had ever experienced. Then again, I had never experienced a loss like this and this would have been my first Good Friday without Joelle. I’m sure that one would probably surmise from my last bunch of blog posts just how much I really miss Joelle, and the emptiness and longing that I feel on a daily and rather continual basis is often consuming at times. It has been five months and admittedly the struggle to find joy in my life becomes evident as each day passes. The absence of joy often has me feeling like I am just wandering this earth until I die sort of thing. I guess you could say that I an already walking dead.
Good Friday changed all of that for me and God helped me find that joy that I had been missing for the past five months. It wasn’t by anything miraculous that happened, really. All I did was participate in preparing and serving breakfast at the church. I It was a joy that I have been searching for, for the last five months.
Other than always being in a state of tears ever since Joelle was diagnosed with cancer, there was one other thing that I had done, which was pray. Not that I didn’t pray to God before, but that time it felt like I prayed with a sense of mission. Knowing that Joelle was sick, and for some unknown sickly feeling at the time, perhaps from all the other people I had known and loved that I lost to cancer, feeling that it wasn’t going to turn out good, my prayer to God was that this could very well be the last time I get to be a husband, especially a husband to Joelle, and asked God to make me into the man that she needs me to be for her life and whatever remaining days she had. Even though the seventeen month journey was difficult and often heart-achingly painful, I’m rather confident that God was answering this prayer because even though there was pain, there was joy in caring for Joelle. There were jobs that I took on that I swore I would never do in a lifetime, but I did them with joy and out of love for Joelle. Sometimes, even Joelle was surprised that I went off my usual Aspie beaten path to do these jobs, because she knew that Aspies are very much routine-based and things like this often make us uncomfortable. What she probably didn’t know was that I was already uncomfortable. Or, maybe she did. I’ll never know. This entire journey was shaking me to my soul. However, there was joy in it. A joy in serving and caring for Joelle, and making sure her needs were met. I had always known in the past the Joelle loved it when the little things were done for her, such as cleaning the kitchen after she cooked a meal, bringing her a late night coffee from Tim Horton’s when she’s taking down a wedding and then helping her take down the wedding and drive home together in our separate cars but on the phone with each others (don’t worry, the cars were always bluetooth equipped), or even wiping the snow off her car before I went to work. To her, that said that I loved her. She really taught me servitude, however, when I was injured and immobile for 3 months. Or, should I say that God showed me servitude through Joelle. Suddenly finding the roles reversed, I knew that this was the person I needed to be for her and I knew that I needed God’s strength to do it. And, in discovering that servitude towards Joelle, I found joy. And I had that joy right to her last day.
Suffice it to say, that joy was lost in the days following her death. I not only miss Joelle terribly, and miss everything about her, I also miss being that servant to her needs. I discovered that I want to be that person God started me out to be. I thought to myself that in the off chance, God were to one day give me that second chance, I would want God to once again make me the person that someone needs me to be. I am not so concerned with my own needs these days, because I know that God knows them very well. He seems to be listening to my cries into tear-soaked pillows and sometimes I can see Him answering them in one way or another. In the meantime, what am I supposed to do while life 1.0 crashed beyond repair and I am waiting for life 2.0 to install and start up? Yes, I am supposed to wait for God, but I don’t believe I have to sit and do nothing while I wait.
Sure enough, a clipboard at church circulated the congregation at the service asking for men to volunteer to help prepare and serve breakfast on Good Friday. This may have been the first time I ever felt pulled to sign up for anything. It was like God wanted me to show Him that if I really meant what I said, then I need to start small. After all, it does say in the scriptures that if I can’t be trusted in the little things, how could I ever be trusted with big things? So I signed up. I prayed up until Good Friday to make me that kind of servant that the church needed that morning. To me, it really didn’t matter what jobs needed to be done. Honestly, I did worse jobs that I swore that I would never do previously, but found myself doing them out of love. Wherever they needed me, I wanted to be there. There was a lot of setup to do when I got there. Funny enough, setting everything up from the breakfast almost felt like setting everything up for one of Joelle’s seders. I was actually driven. It was almost as if I was doing it for Joelle. Next thing you know, I found myself serving sausage patties to everyone. Yeah, it doesn’t seem like much to anyone else, but it felt great to be serving them. We managed to get a few laughs and the interaction was a lot of fun. And even though it felt very uncomfortable, it felt like it was where I needed to be. I don’t know if anyone out felt blessed, but I know that I was blessed by everyone I came into contact with. Heck, someone even came up to me and just smiled and said “Hello.” She didn’t even want a sausage patty. That made me feel good, to be worth a hello for no other reason.
The morning passed by so quickly and by the time I got home, I was filled with so much joy from being able to be a part of that morning that I was crying tears of joy instead of the usual tears of pain and suffering. Yes, I could tell the difference. Maybe, just maybe, this is the key to having that joy that I once enjoyed. It seemed so little to do to put smiles on people’s faces and hopefully helped lift their hearts and spirits. And yet, putting that smile on everyone’s faces gave me a reason to smile. And being there to serve those who needed me gave me that joy I felt I lost. It’s a joy I hope to feel again, so maybe I know what to pray to God for.