By Rev. Dr. Teresa Allissa Citro
"For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.” -Ephesians 2:6
Here I am again, sharing something very, very personal. I’m doing this because it’s the holidays, and unfortunately, many people are sad during the holiday season. I understand people are hurting. In addition, I keep getting private messages from so many readers saying that my sharing helps them. It brings them hope, gives them strength, increases their faith, and helps them heal. I don’t like to show so much vulnerability, but if it helps others, I’ll go ahead and do it. Please understand, I do what I do to connect with those who are hurting, breaking the isolation that they feel.
Tonight, I share about, “The Chair.”
Last week, the above Bible verse kept coming into my mind. My spirit knew immediately what God was trying to tell me. I feel a little silly that it’s taken me six months to get rid of my dad’s chair. I tried to get rid of the chair sooner, but I just couldn’t do it. Just like with his shoes. I kept coming up with excuses for why we needed to keep “The Chair.” Truth was, it was way too painful to let it go. After all, I got rid of the shoes. Please NOT “The Chair” too.
Let me share a bit about this chair and why it was so special. This was my dad’s chair. We made this chair the focal point in our home. We honored my dad so much so everything revolved around this chair. When the chair was delivered, the furniture guys asked where would you like us to place it? My dad quickly pointed to a spot, but he wasn’t thinking like I was. “The Chair” couldn’t just go any old way. It had to take prominence. He was the head of this family, and there was no way I was going to have any old way. It would be prominent because my dad was the greatest man alive.
Picture this with me. The two guys came to deliver “The Chair.” My dad pointed to the spot he wanted it set at. With no thought. I said, “No, Dad. You wouldn’t be able to see us from the dining room.” I looked at the guys and said, “I want this chair to be placed strategically, in a spot where my dad can see us from the kitchen, from the dining room, from the living room, and from the family room” while my dad gave me the, “Oh God, she’s going to have them move the chair a million times” look.
Those guys moved that chair a thousand times for me. I can laugh about it now. This is how it looked. They moved the chair, I sat in the chair, and looked to see if I could see all those rooms from that spot. Really, it was comical. Those guys, with lots of patience, worked with me. My dad, being a business man was telling me in Italian, “Sina (what my family calls me) let those guys go. They don’t have all day to play with you and “The Chair.” However, I wasn’t going to let anybody go until I found the right spot, and that I did.
Every Sunday my kids, my nieces, and nephew sat around that chair. They even fought over who would sit there when my dad left it. Even I fell asleep in that chair many times. My dad let me sleep on it. He never asked me to leave his chair. Three of my nieces were born while this “Chair” was in our home. My dad held them in that chair. Then, as my dad’s Parkinson’s advanced, and he no longer could walk to it alone. My brothers and I would help my dad get to the chair.
Last year, my dad was more comfortable sleeping in that chair. Parkinson’s left him not able to move his legs, and so being able to raise the chair up and down was a way for independence for him. Every night before I went to sleep. I went to that chair to check on my dad. I bent down to feel his breath on my cheek to be sure he was breathing, and it was on that chair my dad took his last breath.
It was on this chair before his body was taken that my Mom, my brothers, my children, and I gave him our final hugs and kisses goodbye, crying over him. You can understand that this chair was very difficult to let go of.
Since this chair was the focal point from almost every room in the house, I watched my kids, my niece, my Mom looking at the empty chair every time they went by with sad faces. Too soon to remove this chair, and I thought "Nuh-uh!" Just like the shoes, I couldn’t do it. I was just hoping everyone, including myself, would get over our sadness when we saw it.
Finally, one night as I was passing by it, like any other night, the empty chair was right in my face. I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I broke down and began to cry. I missed my dad. He was always the last one I would say goodnight to. At this moment, God reminded me of the above scripture. “Your dad is seated in Heaven now. You don’t need this chair. It’s time to get rid of it. While your dad lived on earth, he sat on it. Now, he is in my very presence. He is not dead but very alive. He has been raised up, and he is seated with me. Throw away the chair.”
The very next day, I told my Mom and the kids, it’s time to get rid of the chair. They all told me they were waiting for me to get rid of it because having the empty chair was getting more difficult, and they felt even sadder. By the weekend, my brothers come and removed “The Chair.” It was a very sad day in our home, but it was not a hopeless kind of sad. It was sad in a normal way, but we looked at each other with lots of hope that my dad is in the presence of God with his Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, and with the rest of our loved ones already in Heaven. Death has no sting for those who are His.
Friends, this year has been a very difficult one. So many deaths. Thank God the people I knew did not die of Covid-19. Nevertheless, I think at last count, almost 100 people I know lost a loved one. I know, like me, your heart is broken. I want to remind you that Jesus is very much acquainted with our sorrow. We don’t have to pretend and be all strong as if we are the Great Wall of China. It’s ok, we can be the beautiful china glass that got shattered and put together again by the glue God uses. It’s ok to miss your loved one. Just don’t stay in that mourning position.
I can’t say it any better than this beautiful promise we have in God.
“For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.”
You catch that? We are sealed. This means those that died knowing God are secured in Him. They have been made complete in Him. They are settled in their beautiful mansion in Heaven. They are up close and personal with their Maker, their God, Savior, and Lord. God has sealed them by His Spirit. They are now complete in Him.
Am I still sad? Yes, I will always feel a bit sad. My dad is not here with me, but guess what? His teachings, his love, his guidance, his instructions, his pointing to Jesus Christ, and his faith in God are inside of me. The love, devotion, and sacrifices he made for his family are with me. Most importantly, he left us behind an enormous legacy of living a life of holiness, godliness, integrity, character, and righteousness for my mom, my brothers, and his grandchildren to follow. He pointed to Jesus, and we know we will see him again.
Remember the same is for your loved one. Let’s do this together. Let’s determine that we will honor their memory by rejoicing and being glad that we get to live in the land of the living and lead lives as they did.
“The Chair” he sat on here on earth is now gone, but where he’s seated now is THE REAL CHAIR to sit at.
Praise & Worship: MercyMe - I Can Only Imagine (lyrics) - YouTube