At the time of this post I have now taken a close to 3 week hiatus from posting anything on here. I’ve been well aware of this. I did try to write something a couple weeks ago, but had trouble finding rhythm and pulling things together. Also I’ve been occupied.
As I wrote in my last post, on the very first day of this past month things spun out of my control. My Dad went into the hospital on February 1 and he didn’t leave there until last week on Tuesday and now has been moved into a facility closer to me and my family. It’s hard to believe that has all happened in a few short weeks. My Dad has actually lived in a facility 3 hours north of where I currently live for many years and I’ve wanted to move him closer for quite a while. Suddenly now in 1 month’s time that has become a reality, and almost seemingly outside of any of my own doing at all.
What I haven’t yet told you as well, is that February itself over the last so many years has come to hold a lot of meaning for me for a few reasons. This is what I started writing about a few weeks ago but stopped as even then it seemed like too much. Now too, with all of this happening with my Dad during this particular month as well, it seems in some ways to only add to it all once again.
As February comes around though, nowadays I find myself asking the meaning of it all…
Have you ever wondered, how do we know whether something is meaningful? And if something is meaningful, well, how do we know what meaning that something actually holds? Ok, I may be getting too heady, but I tend to think about such things. I’ve been one to draw meaning from all sorts of things. Movies, things I read, everyday events… And then there’s certain dates. Take for example June 14 in my own life. That date holds already meaning for many people in our country as Flag Day, but it’s also my Dads birthday. Not only that, it’s also my son’s birthday and our dog’s birthday. I found out this past week too that it’s the birthday of a new social worker working with my Dad’s case as well. Lastly, it also happens to be the day that my Dad’s mom actually died some years ago as well. Isn’t that all just a little strange? Can it be a coincidence? Does it all mean anything?
I will likely never be able to fully answer that, but it’s definitely all very peculiar to say the least. Then there are these words from the Bible (a particular book I find a lot of meaning in) in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes…
“‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ Says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!’” ~ Ecclesiastes 1:2
That’s hopeful, huh?
That settles it though, doesn’t it? We call the Bible “God’s Word” and I remember hearing a slogan many years ago that says, “God says it. I believe it. That settles it!” We have to take that line in context though before we can draw such conclusions.
What I think has happened here for the writer of Ecclesiastes is that he has become strung-out on meaning. He’s weary of it! Fed-up with it! He’s tried to contemplate meaning in so many things for so long that he now has tired of it because he just can’t know it all. And neither can we. About mid-way through this present month I also found myself in a similar place. Keep reading to find out why…
I already mentioned above that February itself has come to be quite meaningful for me over the past many years. Why is this? Well, also like above, it mostly centers around certain dates and events in this month that have occurred as the years have gone by. For me, both the day that I first met my now wife and certain events having to do with my career have each happened in this month. To me that makes it stick out like no other.
11 years ago this year my wife and I had our very first in-person date on a Friday night on February 10th. A strange thing about this particular date this year is that it occurs on the very same night of the week as 11 years ago. Is there meaning behind that?
Then there’s February 16th, and this date is even more peculiar to me for a few reasons. 4 years ago on February 16th my family and I sadly left the town of my first pastorate following seminary. We moved to another town 4 hours away where I was to begin another pastorate not necessarily too different than the one before. All of this already made this date memorable to me as certain heartbreaks and hopes came all wrapped together into one. Then exactly 1 year later to the day I was also then agreeing to resign from this position as things didn’t go nearly as we had hoped.
I can still remember my drive as we moved to this new town that one year. I was in one care and my wife and kids in another. Certain music played over the radio that gave me chills and moved me to tears at times. This new opportunity seemed to hold so much promise. Then at about the same hour that we arrived in town one year prior, all and any meaning somehow came to seem completely dashed. What’s up with that?! Every year since this date has loomed, even haunted me as each new year begins.
Has this ever happened to you? I imagine it has. I know I am not the only one to have certain dates that stand out above all the rest. Also though too, I am not the only one to think such thinking is silly as well. Now, as 3 years have passed too, there’s even more has become hard for me to shake as February comes around each year as well.
To add fuel to this already smoldering fire then, as the 1 year anniversary came about two years ago a few interesting things occurred. Firstly, I was already looking at this date from afar long before its pending arrival. Then also at some point I came across a video a friend of mine had posted on Facebook that really got my attention. It was a video detailing the story of this couple who believed they were to have a daughter and also were to give her a particular name as well. They ended up waiting many years. They struggled with infertility. They had all but given up, but then things started to miraculously fall into place. They were led to ultimately adopt and when they met the mom of their soon to be daughter they learned she had already been calling this child by the name they had believed in many years prior. You can watch the video for this story yourself here if you’d like. Then what made this story all the more crazy to me is noticing the date of the child’s birthday. Did you notice it during the video too? It wasn’t February 16th, but 17th, the very day after.
That then came to hold great significance for me. One more thing too yet is that as this 1 year anniversary approached I was also meeting with a career counselor at the time and our final session together came to be scheduled for, you guessed it, February 17. Still something else is that February 17 is a date I singled out many years prior in my youth tied to my favorite athlete I idolized back then. It happens to be Michael Jordan’s birthday. Ok, I nay have just lost many of you as this has just surpassed your silly-o-meter, but stick with me a little bit longer.
That first anniversary did come and go, and I did end up disappointed. One thing it led to though, was the writing of a poem I still return to from time to time to as I think it describes well my many questions and emotions (you can read that by scrolling to the end of this post from 3 years ago here).
Then February 16th came about the following year once again, and you know what I read that morning? Exodus 23:29-30 which says, “I will not drive them out from before you in one year, or the land would become desolate and the while animals would multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land.” Now, can that really be a coincidence? Again though the date came and went.
As the date has once again approached then this year, of course I’ve been watching yet again. At one point I noticed that, as I mentioned above, the night of my wife and I’s first date was set to occur on the same night of the week as before. Also, this is now 3 years afterwards and some months ago I came across this video of an interview with Tim Tebow recalling a significant 3 year anniversary for him some years back (watch it here). As he says, “a lot of people will say coincidence. I say big-God!”
This isn’t all then… Come just a couple weeks on February 16th this year you might imagine that all these things considered led to a difficult day in heart and mind. In fact, come that afternoon, I basically reached my breaking point and I found myself repeating along with the Teacher in Ecclesiastes, “Meaningless! Meaningless! It all has just to be meaningless!”
I don’t think you’re going to believe what happened though shortly thereafter. Once again at about the same hour as the successive events of just 3 and 4 years prior within minutes of each other I received 2 separate emails from 2 different employers I had applied for about a month beforehand. I had all but given up on both of these positions as about 4 weeks had passed. Now they were each asking me for an interview in the week to follow. Again I have ask—Coincidence? Well, suspense still lingers as of today I am still waiting for an answer following the interview for one of the positions just mentioned.
Ok, well I’ve written a lot, and the above about sums up the matter. How then do I conclude it all? Interestingly the end of Ecclesiastes seems rather fitting here as well… “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of everyone.” ~ Ecclesiastes 12:13.