When I sold my business, I had a couple of “I have always wanted to do,” activities on my list, and I completed many of them.  In fact, more than once I have told my wife, “this would not have happened had we still owned the company.” Spending quality time and giving more love is at the top of that list. 

Nearly at the top of the priority list was spending quality time with my youngest son.  He would be leaving for college on the other side of the country the following August (10 months from the time of the sale), and I wanted to maximize the quality of my time with him.  Nearly everything else could wait. 

Wait, that is this month.  That is 4 days from now. 

Breathing is now shallow.  Ceiling is getting all the attention of my eyes.  Tears are forming…

Alex has been my adventure companion.  He races with me.  He hikes with me.  We do yard work together.  We train together at least once a week.  He one of the few people that can “hang” with me during a larger than life event; too many people quit before they start. 

Change happens.  Now is his time to fly from the nest and build his own adventure stories.  He will not likely return for anything more than a brief stay as he transitions from dependent boy in independent man.  And, going through this process hurts.  Sure, I tell myself the hurt is normal and part of life.  I remind myself that we experienced this discomfort when our oldest left the nest.  Yet, the “I don’t like this,” remains.  It impacts my relationship with my wife, too.  She and I aren’t the same since we have began packing his bags and shipping out all sorts of oddball toiletries to his future dorm room in Tempe, AZ. 

The temptation is to remain in this sadness and loss, get a glass of wine and ride the pity potty.  The mature character in me reminds me that this, too, shall pass, and all our will experience a new chapter in our lives that will be full and rich.  I think back to the promises made by God, and I smile.  He is the orchestrator of my life events, and he wrote that story for me in the book of Romans.  In that book, he makes this claim,

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose…”

I have had my share of conversations with those skeptical of God’s existence, and they reference this phrase indirectly.  The question how a loving God would allow bad things to happen to good people, and their claims are pretty darn credible! After all, how can a loving God allow all this bad stuff to happen?  If you call him Father, why is this father failing so miserably when it comes to protecting and providing for his children?  If there is a God who loves us and has a benevolent spirit, would he not protect us from suffering, pain and death caused by evil? 

It seems to the logical thinker that this position needs only a quick read of daily news for validation.  They point to natural disaster, violence, disease and war to finish their argument that God doesn’t love us and perhaps doesn’t even exist.  If he does exist, he is not engaged in our day to day existence as Romans claims.

Without a discourse on the entire contents of the New Testament, we have 2 distinctly different issues to address to unwind this belief. 

To begin, we live in a fallen world.  Ever since the judgment on Adam and Eve, “the whole of creation has been groaning.”  That is what He tells us in the book of Romans.  You believe that, or you don’t.  To say it differently, disasters of all sorts are the result of sin.  The second point is that God uses suffering for good.  My last blog post highlighted how suffering on the Stelvio created great gains for me. 

Despite my faith dialog, I am still hurting.  But my God is bigger than my hurt.  He has demonstrated through all of history that he can and will use this for glory.  I believe Good (Capital G) things can and will come from this transition.  It is my sincere prayer that from this change, all of us will be changed for the better.  That might mean that we hurt for a little while.

My last event with Alex is this weekend.  It is aptly named the Blue Ridge Brutal.  We are doing a 70+ mile bike ride with a whole lot of climbing (6200 feet, but who is counting?) in and around North Carolina and Virginia.  It won’t be easy, but the event will be with him.  I get one final opportunity to demonstrate that suffering isn’t something to be avoided; it is requisite to getting better. 

And since he just won the Gran Fondo in Asheville with first place, overall, the odds of his old man hanging with him during this weekend’s climbing are near zero.  Alas, suffering starts for me, even before we part ways. 

Pick your venue and do something epic with the ones you love.  My weapon of choice happens to have 2 wheels and is propelled by glycogen.  You might not get to do it tomorrow.