In my short 26 years of life, I can say without a doubt that there is one moment that signifies a before and after. I had lived my life one way for 14 years, one month, and 10 days, and then in that one moment of that one day, I lived my life after. It’s been 12 years to the day since that moment but I can say without a doubt that it was that moment that drew the line in the sand signifying the before and after.
Before I reached that point in my life — the “after” — I was an teenager going through the usual awkward stage of life full of braces that never seemed to come off, frizzy hair that never seemed to tame, and boys that never seemed to notice me. There was also that stage of constantly fighting with my parents and storming out of a room and slamming a door was a daily activity in our house. But then, below all of those tantrums and tears, was a void in my heart. My dad and I had not gotten along for most of my life, and it was then, in the “before” stage of my life, that we had gotten to the point of avoiding each other whenever possible because when we did find each other in close proximity, a grenade would explode. Sometimes I questioned how he really felt about me in the “before” stage of life. But what’s interesting is what happened after I crossed that line into the “after” stage of my life.
I never questioned how he felt about me again, and even more importantly, I never questioned how I felt about him.
It was a pivoting moment one day not long after crossing over that line while sitting in counseling for the 767th time in our lives. We had realized how close we were to loosing my dad, and how if one small thing would have gone differently — if that plane would have shifted inches to one direction, if he had been in his new office he was due to move into three weeks later, if he had simply been walking out of the bathroom in that moment, or any other “if” scenarios we derived in our heads — he would have been another name listed on that memorial. Another name called out in the moment of silence and remembrance. We didn’t know why the Lord chose to spare his life prior to this counseling session, but I still remember when the counselor looked at us and said, “Oh my gosh, your life was spared to fix your relationship.” And that is exactly what has happened.
Because the truth is, if one thing had gone differently that day at the Pentagon, I could have lost my father and our relationship would been burned into my head as it was before that day. Disagreeing. Fighting. Blowing-up at each other. Arguing. Hurting. Crying. And never could we have ever fixed it, because I’d be left with those memories of us, with no chance to make it better because he was gone. And by the time I saw him again when I got to heaven, all of those emotions wouldn’t be felt because it simply would not be a thought in our heads. It would have been too late.
It’s an interesting thing, when you realize your life “before” something so terrible happens, and then how you live your life “after” it happens. You realize how much you take for granted in your life and how you really are never guaranteed another minute of your life (and neither is anyone else). And realizing that when you live your life with so much anger, fighting, and arguing, it is simply not worth it. It’s not worth it to hold onto things, it’s not worth it to fight with people, and it’s really not worth it to let someone who is literally half of you just slip through the cracks in your heart.
I can’t say that things were instantly cured once that line was drawn in the sand in my life and things were suddenly harmonious and we never fought or cried again. Because we certainly have. Things haven’t been easy and we’ve had to work out these problems we’ve harbored in our hearts and minds for so many years. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t stormed off and slammed a door since, because I have, on more than one occasion. But I can say, without a doubt, how incredibly thankful I am to God that He chose to keep my dad here and that we have been able to work on improving our relationship. Because after my life continued from that drawn line, I never have questioned how I feel about him.