Undeserved and Unmerited Favor

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David and Catherine, May 2016

In June, after a 2-year battle with cancer my ex-husband, David Anderson passed away.  David and I married one month after I graduated from high school.  For 14 years we were married and  blessed with 2 sons.

Divorce was unchartered territory in David’s family and mine.  Through the years we stayed in touch.  A catch-up phone call here and there.  A visit with his mom in Colorado.  Family events and gatherings brought our paths to cross occasionally.  However, we lived in different parts of the country, and since he lived part-time in Mexico, even in different countries!

When he passed away friends and family asked me what I was going to do.  Was I traveling to Colorado for his celebration of life service?  I didn’t know.  Lee, my husband of 26 years let me know that he supported any decision I made about attending the service.  I was so torn.  David and I have a history and a shared love.  We were given two sons together.   We shared our life together for 14 years.  What is proper under the circumstances?  I truly didn’t know what to do so I Googled looking for an etiquette answer.  (Don’t judge – I really wanted to do the right thing but didn’t know what that was.)


Then the call came from my oldest son, “Mom, we want you here.”  Google answers aside, that is all I needed to hear.  I would go.  I would be there to support my sons and their families.  I would sit at the back. I would fade into the wall.  No one needs to know who I am.  My presence would be for my children, who had just lost their father.  After all, David had a lifetime full of friends I didn’t know, adventures I didn’t share, and a woman who had stood beside him for many years cared for him throughout his illness and loved him unconditionally.

David, Cory, and Chris, 1983

Arriving in Colorado the day before the service gave me time to spend with my sons, their wives, and my grandchildren.  We had an evening reminiscing fun memories, telling tales, and really loving on each other well.  It was exactly what David would have wanted for us.

When we arrived at the service I helped carry in flowers.  This is where my plan went awry.  As soon as I walked into the room David’s beloved Diane greeted me with open arms.  We had met before but this time was different.

Diane & David

Her face was lovely as she smiled through the grief and sadness of saying goodbye to her beloved.  Then she swept me through the room introducing me to other women and men who loved David.  Each one shared with me how they had met David and how he had affected their lives.  The service hadn’t even begun and yet I was gently folded into the beautiful landscape of David’s life.
As more and more people arrived the room filled.  The service was about to start.  I headed for the back row.  That is when Davida, David’s friend through the church,  grabbed my hand and took me towards the front row.  She said, “we want you here with your family and especially because we planned for your to speak, I mean, if you want to.”

Speak?  Me?  Every person in this room could speak of their life with David.  Everyone in the room had a connection to him and had meant something to him.  Me?  Speak?  I said a prayer as I took my seat between our sons.

grace
noun
1.  (in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

Unmerited favor.  I received a huge dose of unmerited favor that day and the days that would follow.  I didn’t deserve any seat of honor at the Celebration of Life service.  I didn’t deserve to share stories of David’s early life and our time together.  I didn’t even really deserve to be there and yet I was.

When I shared about my life with David, I told of the early years, a time when David was a rock star of the radio in the small town where we lived in Nebraska.  I shocked his friends who knew nothing of his time as a radio announcer, program director, and golden voice of the Nebraska radio airwaves.
I shared The Dash and encouraged those of us attending to take an introspective look at our own lives and the legacy we may each want to leave behind.   As I write today I am once again moved by the love and grace, truly unmerited favor I received that day.  It changed me.  The memory of that day is now a reminder for me to extend that same kind of love and grace wherever I can whenever I can.  I walked into the Celebration of Life Service a stranger to most and yet when I left I had experienced a powerful love between friends, family, and God.
For a good part of my life, I have claimed Romans 8:28 as my “life verse”.  You know, the scripture quote that seems to speak to you directly – the one that holds a very personal meaning for you.

What an awesome God we serve who can turn all things to good.  Thank you, Diane and friends, who extended to me, such undeserved love.  You have left a lovely mark on me.

~Blessings, Catherine
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15 thoughts on “Undeserved and Unmerited Favor”

  1. This is lovely. The timing is uncanny. My ex-husband just passed two weeks ago also from cancer. I made him a quilt for his chemo treatment days, all his friends and family wrote words of encouragement to him. I was humbled and honored that this quilt was placed over his casket in lieu of flowers. I too was asked to sit with ‘the family’. What an honor that I thought I truly did not deserve. Your story made me feel good, feeling I made a good choice. My lovely Jerry, you fought a good fight, you finished the race, you kept your faith. Until we meet again.

    1. Renee, thank you for taking time to write and our sympathy goes out to you and your family for the loss of Jerry. Scripture tells us that God can turn all things to good and I believe He uses our times of grief to also show us His love and grace. God Bless you!

  2. Powerful! This is such a beautiful example of God’s grace and mercy. This must have started out being such a heart rending time on so many levels, and, yet, God’s grace carried you so gently through. Blessings:)

  3. God’s grace is wonderful. What a wonderful testimony to it. You were where you needed to be at the time you needed to be there. Thank you for sharing. Love you!

    1. Thank you, Gale. You are no stranger to heartache, but I also know that God has shown you mercy and grace through loss. Your blog pictures of the family brought so many memories flooding back from our days at Davies Place. God Bless You!

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