I’m singing like I never have before

“Bless the Lord oh my soul

Oh my soul

Worship his holy name

Sing like never before

Oh my soul

I worship your holy name”

Four weeks ago today my dad died.  He really enjoyed singing and music was a major part of his life.  When we went through his things, we found newspaper clippings announcing his various roles in school musicals, and the guest appearances he made at other schools and in community productions.

“Bless the Lord oh my soul

Oh my soul

Worship his holy name

Sing like never before

Oh my soul

I worship your holy name”

I’ve had this song in my head for a few days now.  It’s a pretty song, and I’d like it without the implications to my personal story.

But – is my dad singing like never before?  Now?  With all the grief and strife and pain of his last moments, months, years – is he singing now?  His head was so clouded with all the painkillers and prescriptions.  His cognitive abilities were really impaired even though he was only 55.  He just wasn’t himself with all those medications.

He loved contemporary worship music.  I always thought that was a little weird, because much of the music is, well, less than innovative and sometimes quality is sacrificed as well.

“Whatever may pass

And whatever lies before me

Let me be singing

When the evening comes.”

Was my dad singing in those last days?  The last moments?  Was there any joy left in his heart?  Any praise for God?  Was his death prompted by exhaustion?  Was his race too long, too hard, or simply over?  Or was his soul filled with sadness and loneliness and despair filling in the final minutes of his last morning of the corporeal plane?

“And on that day

When my strength is failing

The end draws near

And my time has come”

Death is easier to handle when the dead had no hand in it.  It feels less like an accusation.  I will never know what my dad was thinking of me.  Had I wronged him?  Should I have gotten him on the phone sooner?  Should I have tried harder?  More often?

“Still my soul

will sing your praise unending

10 thousand years

and then forevermore”

From talking to people he reached out to in those last days and weeks, it sounds like my dad was really shrinking in to himself.  Leaving no impression on even those called by God to serve.  Whether that is their failing or his I don’t know, but my heart breaks for a man crying out and being unseen.  Is he singing now?  Is he praising God?  If his wasn’t praising God when he died, will he be allowed to praise God after death?  Could God be so self-centered?


Mostly, I need to believe that God forgave my father before even the sins were committed.  I need to believe God’s grace is big enough and sufficient for that.

I need also to believe that God’s grace covers my sin in this.  I was no perfect daughter, I know that. But I tried to do what was right.  In a situation that was anything but straightforward, in a relationship full of pain and muddied by alcohol and so much more hurt – I tried, and kept trying.  I don’t know how my father felt about me in the moments before his death.  I don’t know if he held me responsible for any of his pain.  I don’t know what parts of it I truly am responsible for.  I might not, on this side of life.


We still don’t even know time of death.  Or what the toxicology report found.  Or what the note said.  I’m not sure any of it would help.  I’m trying to focus on the stories people shared at his visitation.  On the memories they had of him.  On his service, his passions, his laughter and his life.


But the death is so heavy.  And so opaque.  I can’t see through it to the past and I can’t see around it to the future.  And when I do glimpse the future, my dad isn’t in it.  We spent years, more than a decade, working him through sobriety.  Sometimes we left him on his own to work, sometimes we badgered and begged and pushed and prodded.  This is the first time since I was a child that my dad is not an alcoholic.  There is no boozy haze between us.  But there’s also no him.  The alcohol is gone, but it took my dad.


And now my race is that much heavier.  The weight of solitude is crushing.  I carry my dad’s death, and also his absence.


But at night, when I’m rocking my daughter(s), I praise God.  Sometimes out of desperation, sometimes just grasping for something to cling to.  Sometimes for the freedom of escaping addiction and depression.  Sometimes it’s another cycle of badgering and begging and pushing and prodding.  I want these songs to be so deeply embedded in my girls that they can’t escape praising God in their darkest moments.  When my girls are alone with their thoughts I want them to be set to a background of singing and crying out to God.  I seem to be attempting to fill their subconscious with God so that they will never be alone or without the gift of faith.  I can’t push God into their hearts, but I can beg them to receive Him.  And I do.  Until the words are stuck in their heads so firmly that they’ll race through their minds even at their last minutes.  No matter how dark or lonely or desperate.

“Bless the Lord oh my soul

Oh my soul

Worship his holy name

Sing like never before

Oh my soul

I worship your holy name”


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3 responses to “I’m singing like I never have before

  1. Gloria

    I need to believe those things too. Right there with you, beautiful.

  2. Mom

    God is with us always….always….always…and I will always be there for you Sarah I love you so much…

  3. Handsfull

    I’ve been lurking since I found you with Sarah’s ‘practices of parenting’ thingy, but here’s where I de-lurk! 🙂
    Your writing is beautiful. Honest and real.
    I’ve never been in your situation, but I’ve had times of pain so dark I couldn’t see another step in front of me. Even so, somehow in those times I knew God was holding onto me. I hurt so much I couldn’t find words to express it, but I needed to communicate with God somehow, so I would sing. No words, just opening my mouth and pouring out the sounds of my heart. Because what was there to say? And I know now, looking back, that those songs were some of the truest and best worship I have ever given to God.
    That is what you are doing. In the pain, in the not-knowing, in the dark, you are honoring God and choosing to believe Him. Not once you’re out the other side, when it all makes sense and you can see why it all happened, but right now when it’s raw and scary and there’s so many questions.

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