Our use of the word “always” in today’s society is ambivalent. Always can go both ways. “I will love you always.” Or, “we could always break up.” One word has the power to soar you into the clouds above the highest of mountaintops or break your heart into a million pieces.
Honestly, I don’t like the word always. It’s too decisive of a word. I notice when I say, “you always….,” there is never a positive reaction. It pigeonholes the other person. It makes the other person feel as if you are incapable of seeing them in a different light.
“I will always….” is also disruptive to me.
How can you promise something for always? How can you possibly say anything you do or feel is eternal? Who are you to use the word always?
After my father passed away suddenly, several people told me he would be with me always. He helped me become the woman I am today, a piece of him is always inside me, he is eternal and I am eternal….. Yet, I wonder, is that really true? Will the Lord think my wedding day is as important to eternity as I do? Will the Lord think my graduation from grad school is as important as I do? Will my dad know I made him a “Papa” too? Will my Heavenly Father grant my earthly father a day to walk among men and see the moments when I wish he was physically present?
I feel like my weight in eternity is far less than whatever Jesus has my father doing Heaven. Since time is an invention of man, will my father even know when I meet him how much time has passed and what he has missed?
There is a scene and Roger’s and Hammerstein’s “Carousel” that has been coming to mind time after time, in quiet moments alone when I am missing my father. In the musical “Carousel,” for those who are not familiar, Billy Bigelow is allowed to visit his wife and daughter after having taken his own life. As he is being sent back “up there” after his visit, the song “You’ll never walk alone” plays in the background, and you feel as if he is whispering it to his wife. You see her buck up in a wonderful moment of extreme sadness. The moment is bitter-sweet and powerful, and I see her face so clearly in moments I wish my dad was here. The lyrics are as follows:
When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of a storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
“You’ll never walk alone….”
It is the promise of always.
This is the promise we will always have something inside us that is greater than we could possibly imagine. This is a promise Someone will always be with us. This is the promise we will not face moments of sadness and sorrow alone. This is the promise of a golden sky… this is the promise that something wonderful is waiting for us if we will only withstand the storm.
I have to believe that. I have to believe that there is Something and Someone greater than myself that is piecing my story together for Good. I have to believe in always. I have to believe an always is possible and can exist, even if just parallel to my world. If I’m not experiencing it now, I have to believe I will someday. “Always” is beyond my understanding. “Always” is greater than my mind can wrap around. “Always” is just the word we use to try to capture the glory of eternity.
I can live in the ambivalence of always. I choose to live in that adventure. Wouldn’t you love to live in the adventure of always?
“….And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Anna Hull lives in San Antonio, TX. A graduate of Schreiner University with a B.A. in Religion & Political Science, Anna is passionate about finding Jesus in every day life. She enjoys unexpected adventure, making genuine connections with others, and finding beauty in chaos.
I am so sorry for the sudden loss of your father. I cannot even imagine that pain. Thank you for taking time to process and write these thoughts and words that I have heard others wrestle with in deep grief. You are not alone in this sacred space. You give voice to what many may feel but are unable to articulate as eloquently as you do here. Your writing is a gift. Thank you for sharing it with us. (And if a sparrow can’t fall to the ground and the very hairs of your head are numbered, I think the Lord will think that your wedding day and graduation from grad school are pretty big deals.) Hugs!
Thank you Julie for your sweet response. I love that you called it a “sacred space” because it truly feels it is. Thank you for reminding me about the sparrows… it brought me great comfort. <3