“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” Psalm 119:9
Grief is a time of role reversals. That’s an understatement. But there’s one role reversal I was alerted to immediately—a mere week-and-a-half after Kim died. My son, Paul, asked if he could talk about something with me. Visits and funerals had come to an end, and both of my sons came home with me for a few more days. Everyone was concerned about me; and I’m glad they were concerned. I felt loved and cared for no doubt. My boys wanted to help me get back home and settled.
We traveled back to my house, and the three of us sat down for the first time after all the events ended. I was beginning a new stage. A new normal. Late that afternoon, we were doing what guys do—talking about what we would do for dinner—when Paul asked if we could talk. “Of course,” I said.
He said, “Dad, I want to know if you have safeguards in place against temptation to use pornography.” I was stunned—but in a good way. My son cared enough for me and my well-being to bring up a difficult topic. My purity and faithfulness were important enough to broach a very private, even taboo, topic. I assured him I did have safeguards in place, but I encouraged them both to have the freedom to check on me. To hold me accountable.
The shoe is on the other foot.
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22
“Turnabout is fair play,” they say. The shoe is definitely on the other foot now. For well over thirty years, I have taught and challenged younger men, who were single, to remain pure. Run from youthful temptation and passions. Set boundaries and plan. Walk in purity and integrity. Live lives above reproach.
Well, what goes around comes around. It’s my turn, once again.
Thoughts of purity, singleness, and marriage came into my mind occasionally, and I mulled them over through the next months of grief. I was jogging one morning and was listening to my Bible and was hearing what Paul wrote about marriage. Freedom poured over me as I heard the following:
“To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am.” 1 Corinthians 7:8
I remember that morning wondering what the future held for me. But after hearing Paul’s instruction, I relaxed. I realized I could remain as I am unless the Lord interrupted my journey and made it clear for me to take another direction. As I read books on grief, I remember considering the caution against making any decision out of loneliness. Again, it’s time to practice what Kim and I had preached numerous times to younger singles. We cautioned young men and women that to marry wrongly is so much worse than the loneliness of not being married. Marriage is a significant commitment and carries important responsibilities. Marriage is a picture of Christ and his church. That’s a tall order.
No doubt on February 18, 2019, I re-entered an intense school. Call it a remedial rehearsal. I’ve referred to this journey as an intense schoolhouse because that’s what it truly has been for me. Suddenly, I was interested in topics and subjects dismissed long ago. Loss initiated a time for rehearsing remedial lessons.
The time to practice what I’ve always preached had come around, once again. It was time to preach to myself.
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1
Note: At the release of this entry, I am a few weeks into my marriage to Amanda. God, it turns out, did interrupt my long journey with a priceless gift. And for the record, with God’s grace, I practiced what I preached.
The journey of being alone, single, without a help mate, without someone to share with………………….ever grateful Jesus was my main line and now ever grateful the Father had a plan for these years and someone to do life. Blessings brother to you and your beautiful bride.
May we continue to abide close to the Savior, resting in Him and His eternal promises.
Thanks, Annette. Press on faithfully, sister!
Amazing post. D. Ray. So thankful for you and your sons!
Thank you, Jason! I’d love to see you sometime!