Uncontainable Joy

It’s been a rough six months. I know that almost everyone can relate to that. COVID came and changed everything, and my schedule got so wrecked that my writing time sort of evaporated. Our daughter has been schooling at home, and since it is her senior year of high school, she has been applying to university, attempting to take standardized exams that keep getting cancelled, and dealing with her usual workload for school on top of it all.

That is the primary reason I’ve been away from the blog.

I have been absent from social media in all of its forms, as well, and that was more of a personal choice. The overwhelming negativity is…overwhelmingly negative. With everything else on our plates, the Nix family has unplugged and been focused on not getting sick, not allowing our daughter’s final year at home to be utterly destroyed, and figuring out what a new normal should look like. I know that almost all of you can relate in some form or other.

Life has felt like watching the world go by through a window. Stuff is happening and people move about, but we’re not together and we’re not hugging. We’re not sitting in rooms together like we used to do, and the separation is getting to us. Even important gatherings, like weddings, are happening in isolation.

My brother Steve is getting married. It is a happy event, and we’re all so excited for him. None of us will be there to witness it with him. Laws and common sense dictate that large intimate gatherings be forsaken in favor of health and safety. We will depend on my brother and my new sister-in-law to send us photos and hope they can feel our support through the ether. How strange the world has become. Maybe we can hang our hopes on throwing them an anniversary party when all of this has righted itself.

Only the Lord knows.

There is another Steve in my life, and he is also my brother, just not in the familial sense. He is one of my pastors. I wrote about Pastor Steve in my post, The People Who Pointed Me to Jesus. He’s the last one mentioned, but he was never the last one in importance. Like a sort of “extra parent,” Pastor Steve guided me in more personal ways than academic Bible study or the pricklier matters of faith. He shepherded my tangled personality and my darker struggles of the spirit. He did it with a smile on his face and a confidence that was contagious. He stitched up a lot of the wounds in my heart, and I don’t even know if he fully understood that. He is the kind of man who instinctively knew when to give a hug, sit next to me, lecture me, or just kneel quietly a few feet away and pray with me in silence. He is the one who came to sit with me when I was in the hospital. He is the one who anointed my head and prayed over me when things were ugly. He is the one who brought communion to my husband and daughter when we could not attend church services.

Pastor Steve did this for everyone in his circle of influence. He moved through the world with an open heart and just poured genuine joy into the world. No matter how dark things got, Pastor Steve was a bringer of light.

He left this world last month, and he was too young and the death was extremely sudden. His sons were with him, which all of us who loved him take comfort in knowing. He is home with God, now. I cannot imagine the grief of his wife and close family. My own grief, as a congregant, is great. He was my friend. He was my pastor. He taught me how to look at a lot of things very differently. He radiated peace and happiness, and it took over every room he entered. We were blessed to know him and be allowed to have his life overlap with ours.

I struggled, at first, with the idea that COVID stole his last six months from all of us. I was so angry about it that I couldn’t mourn for a few days after being notified of his death. It was Pastor Steve who fixed me one last time in this regard. In thinking about him, I thought of how he would tell us all to respond. I thought of his words, the ones he repeats every time he gives a sermon.

Pastor Steve would say:

I want you to know that God is with you wherever you go.
He’ll be in front of you to show you the way.
He’ll be behind you to encourage you.
He is above you to watch over you.
And He is beside you like a good friend.
But best of all, He is inside of you, filling you with His love, with His Peace, and with His uncontainable joy.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Pastor Steve was my friend. I loved him more dearly than I ever let him know. I’m not good at that, and when times like this come around in life, I lament my shortcomings. I hope he had an inkling of it, despite my taciturn nature, and I hope he knows it now that he’s in Heaven. I know he’s up there handing out uncontainable joy everywhere he goes, just as he did with us in this life.

The blog is not abandoned. My life is just different since this disease infected the world and made us all stop and change everything. I’m thinking it will be as soon as our daughter’s school schedule resumes and I get something like my old schedule back. We will see.

If you have a Pastor Steve, tell him how much you love him. Don’t make him wait for Heaven to know he made a real difference.

2 thoughts on “Uncontainable Joy

  1. It is good to hear your voice again, Amy. I’ve often thought of you and your family while (gesturing about) all this has been going on.

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your pastor. I imagine he knew of your feelings about him—pastors are often intuitive, and I’m guessing he had you figured out. Aren’t you thankful that you will see him again? I can’t wait for you to introduce me.

    Stay well, my friend. Hugs from Texas.

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