The following is a reflection from CBF field personnel Janee Angel who serves among internationals and refugees in Antwerp, Belgium. You can learn more about her ministries and support her work at www.cbf.net/angel.
Grief is a process and death is still very fresh on my mind.
In July, I traveled back to the States in the midst of the pandemic to sit with my dad and be with him at the end of his time here on earth.
Our relationship was never good or close as he battled borderline personality disorder for the majority of his life and for all of my life. So, as I walked back into my parents’ home, I was very aware of God’s hand on me. It was God’s grace that allowed me be light and truth as I walked into that bedroom where he lay dying.
Ministry didn’t stop because I left my place of missional work or because I went on sick leave. Possibly some of the most important ministry of my life happened in my childhood home this summer. Forgiveness was extended. And more than that, my dad asked for it. Any anger or bitterness for the way things had been disappeared. I prayed for my dad and I sang to him. I read words from the Bible that talked about that moment when we see Jesus. I talked to him about being ready. I cared for him by administering medications. And I was sitting next to him as he breathed his last breath at 6:53 a.m., Wednesday, July 29.
In the days before he passed away, I had the sense that God lifted my dad’s mental illness as one would lift up a blanket from its center. It was just enough for my mom and I to get a taste of what life would have been like, could have been like. It was a gift, allowing me to release so much hurt as I was finally able to see him for who he should have been.
I returned to my place of ministry in Belgium on August 18. I had contracted COVID-19 in the States and needed time to recover. I am still healing and learning to grieve through what life could have been like if mental illness had not grabbed hold of my dad. Countless prayers were answered to get me to the States and back to Europe. God used so many people to provide for our flight needs. Grateful doesn’t even begin to cover it.
This summer reminded me that God is literally good all the time. But good is not a synonym for easy. Nothing about this season of my life is easy, but so much has been good. And nothing is wasted. A life of pain in an only child can be used beautifully in the hands of a Loving Father. He is the Father to those who are fatherless.