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Healing; Vibes & Tribes

Losing my dad, it started an entire journey that I wasn't sure I'd live through, the initial shattering that happened inside my world. There was a lot of therapy, reflection, praying, begging for an answer to my why's. Then one day, sitting at my Grandma's table, making her a seasoning that she could use on a majority of anything, after I finished, I realized I didn't add salt. A happy accident helped me towards a journey building Flavor Imperium. The biggest thing I find is that losing my dad was a catalyst. Before, I was ambitious, but now, my ambition is driven with a more "life can be gone in a moment" type of drive. Losing my dad, I gained an unwavering depth in my faith in God. Healing came in raindrops and consequently, grieving, came in waves. But also, I found people who were in the same place as me. Challenged by the same catalyst and watching their faith change the same way. I talked to a few of them and asked them three questions. 1. Struggles you had in your faith after you lost your dad 2. How your faith has changed or grown since 3. Anything else you want to add Before I get to their answers, I’ve found helping others who lost their dad has been one of the most therapeutic things. As most know, I’m an only child. My dad was my best friend and now its just me and my mom.

Of the four people that I asked, (Stephanie, Marissia, Devan and Gabby) Stephanie lost her dad in 2006, Marissia lost hers in 2015, I lost mine in 2017, Devan in 2020, and Gabby lost hers in 2020. Stephanie and Marissia had my back when I lost my dad, were people that I went to when I couldn’t figure out what I was feeling or how to process my feelings. Now, I get to do that for Devan and Gabby. So to the three questions. 1. Struggles You had in your faith after losing your dad: Stephanie: I would say one of the biggest struggles I have/had is with sometimes wanting God to just take things away, like my dad's alcoholism. I prayed for him to be healed and for God to take away his addiction, but the problem my dad didn't think he had one. So while I respect we have free will, I struggle with how people use it. I also struggle with the stupid term "love the sinner not the sin" its not biblical but people use it. Marissia: My faith struggled in many ways after my dad passed away. I wondered how a God that was supposed to love me could take away someone so important to my life. I wondered how I was going to be able to heal and cope with feeling so alone, and like god was 50,000 miles away. I lost my faith because my happiness was no longer existent. I grew into jealousy because of witnessing others with their parents that they took for granted. I didn’t know how to turn to god for help because it felt like he tried against me. Franny: I really struggled with not understanding why, when I lost my dad. I was upset because my dad was faithful. I was jealous seeing other girls with their dads, seeing other dads become grandfathers. I struggled with weddings, the father daughter dances, I still delete facebook and social media from my phone on fathers day because I just can’t stomach it. Devan: 1. I questioned everything. How could my dad being taken away so suddenly have a purpose, Why would God do that, etc.. all of those questions running through my head making me really honestly shook to my core. Gabby: Death is an unavoidable thing that every human being will experience at one point or another in their life. Whether it be a friend or family member. This past year, there was a death that hit me harder than any line drive I had ever hit in my life. On December 22nd 2020, I lost my best friend my hunting partner, my teacher, my cheerleader, the center of my world, the man whom everyone said I was the spitting image of. I lost my father. Before this, if you would've asked me my religion, I'd tell you I was a Christian, even though I couldn't tell you the 10 commandments. I had gone to church years back whenever I could, but if you're a travel softball player, you know what I mean when I say Sunday's where you're free are very limited. So yes, I was a Christian. But I hadn't truly formed a relationship with God. I'm not going to tell you that losing my dad 3 days before Christmas made my relationship with Christ stronger. I remember crying in the arms of my grandma, hours after I had been told the news, saying how I wasn't going to celebrate Christmas this year because I was convinced God hated me. That he was punishing me for something. I remember screaming and crying in my car, angry at God and blaming him for it all. Now, long story short, when I was 4, my dad and I started a tradition where on Black Friday, he would take me deer hunting with him instead of me going shopping with my mom. ( I was quite a tomboy, haha) But little did I know this would be the last year I'd ever go Black Friday hunting with him again. This year, Black Friday was on his birthday, so I silently told myself no matter how nice the deer was, I'd let him take it because it was his birthday. I was on the other side of the hill when I heard a gunshot, then I got a text from Dad that he just shot a buck and I couldn't help but smile. 2. How your faith has changed or grown since: Stephanie: Forgiving my dad after his death changed me and grew my faith. It showed me how God can forgive and still love me mistake after mistake. Dad's shouldn't drink their lives away, become angry drunks, or treat their children like a road block to their addiction or cause of for that matter. My dad loved me, but sometimes it felt he loved alcohol more, but I have forgiven him. Sometimes I place idols before God, sometimes I lie, or don't spend the time with God he needs. I make excuses, I take short cuts, but when I ask I am forgiven. It's helped me to forgive others and myself even. Marissia: My faith has changed and grown in many ways since I have learned what it means to “let go and let god.” I now realize that god doesn’t pick and choose for bad things to happen just to hurt you. Sometimes things in life come to open your eyes, not to destroy you. I have learned to lean on Jesus and have him walk through my problems with me VS me just trying to do it all alone. I realized that god doesn’t forsake us, or want us to be in pain. Franny: My faith has changed so much since losing my dad. Losing him ended up cracking open my mind to digging deeper in my faith. Digging deeper also caused me to be more inspired, leading me to being able to embrace even more people than before. Losing my dad, while still effects me in more ways than once, I'm more intentional about spending time with people. I am more present when I'm with people because there's a chance tomorrow they won't be there. Its a morbid way to look at things, but its one of the realities I look at after losing my dad. Devan: My faith was definitely changed. I trust more blindly now I guess would be a way of wording it. There’s always a reason, even if what happens is as devastating as losing your parent. Gabby: The day after he passed, I decided to walk around our old hunting spots in the woods because I hoped it would clear my mind, but I was wrong. All it did was trigger the memories, while walking up the hill, ( I was still angry with God at the time) I told God to send me a sign to assure me that Dad was in heaven watching me. Once I reached the top of the hill, (the location he shot the buck) right under the spot he had been sitting, was a rifle shell sitting on the ground. It wasn't stuck in the mud or frozen. Just sitting there. There's no way it would've stayed there all those weeks with all the powerful winds and feet of snow, along with rain and animals without someone PUTTING it there. I knew it was dad's because it was the brand we used that day. I KNEW that was my sign. I picked it up and took it home. The last bullet he ever shot.

Since then, my relationship with God has never been stronger. I've been welcomed with open arms at our local church, where I've been going whenever I can since March. Because of that, I've gained new friends who I consider family, learned more about the Bible and the history of Christianity., met countless adults who care about me and my mom and are always willing to give me advice but most importantly, its allowed me to grow in my faith. its brought me peace knowing Daddy is indeed in a better place. 3. Anything else to add: Stephanie: God doesn't take people away from us, He didn't want this hurt to come to us, but He knew sin and darkness would enter, and to combat it sacrificed His son, and someday I will be free and in heaven. I can't say for sure if my dad was saved, it unfortunately wasn't a conversation we had. He was catholic and I never really saw him in a church, but even if I don't get to see him in heaven, there I won't know the difference, and in that I find comfort. I am loved, I cared for, and most importantly I am forgiven

Marissia: Sometimes we have to go through the hardest things imaginable to prepare us for the next part of our life. Sometimes you are forced into something that is scary and uncertain so that one day you can use that testimony to be a light in the dark for others. Franny: I was blessed at fifteen to see my dad become saved. I watched one of the strongest men in my life accept grace and mercy. I watched him become an equal Christian leader in my family. Him and my mom became such a formidable Christian couple that I aspire to become with my husband. I'm so grateful for the memories and the time that I did have. So after everything, I've learned, take pictures, appreciate the people around you while you have them. Forget quickly and love often. Devan: I feel like I know that God and Heaven exist because my dad passed away crying and smiling and to me, I feel like it’s because he saw God and all of our family members passed before us greeting him and welcoming him home. The pastor who came up that night said it was one of the most peaceful passing expressions he had ever seen. I cry just thinking about it.

I know this post is abit...everywhere, but for those who are going through the same thing, losing a parent, (especially in our case, our dads,) you aren't alone. If you go to the groups tab (or click here) there's an Empire Group Chat that I've set up that I really want to turn into a community section on this website. I LOVE connecting with you guys and would like to do so there, you can also connect with each other.

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