It is safe to say that I am not a cryer. At least not until recently. Now my eyes seem to leak often.
While I appreciate a good bought of tears now and then, I don’t cry easily. Yet, ever since the death of an officer in our community, I have found myself crying several times a day. The last time I remember a death hitting me this hard was when my best friend, Keith Clerihue, went home to heaven.
I did not know Deputy Zack Parrish well. I had met him on occasion. My wife enjoyed a connection with his wife in a woman’s Bible Study a few years ago. I know his in-laws pretty well, but I didn’t know him deeply. Nonetheless, his death has affected me as if this was one of my closest friends. I cry often over his loss.
Last night I was with a friend around my age; he is also the father of four kids. We were recounting the way that Zack’s death has affected us. He started crying first and it was only a minute before my stomach was in my throat and I was doing everything I could to keep the tears back.
We asked, “Why is this affecting us so much?”
- It could be that we are close to Zack’s age.
- It could be that my wife was pregnant at the same time Zack’s wife and they had celebrated together.
- It could be that our kids are of similar age.
- It could be the outpouring of the community and the reaction to Zack’s death.
- It could be that the reality of our frailty and that this could happen any moment to any of us.
- It could be that the Gospel has been so prevalent through Zack’s death and our souls are tender (in a good way) from hearing the Gospel proclaimed so well.
- It could be that God is trying to teach us something, yet to be fully determined.
I don’t know exactly why this death has been so powerful in my life, but it has… and not just mine; I have had dozens of conversations in the last two weeks about how this has changed our lives. These conversations have been mostly with men around my age (and/or Zack’s age) and how we’ve been forever changed by the stories of how he lived his life and how his life left a great impact on so many.
Molly and I sat at Zack’s funeral with a group of friends just a few rows from the front. I had a clear view of Gracie, Zack’s wife, and his whole family throughout the service. I could see each element clearly as the police service was executed with excellence. I cried through so much of the service. I was so impacted by Zack’s life, the Gospel, Gracie’s strength in God, Zack’s dad’s words (as a father myself), his best friend, and the whole atmosphere of the room. I have no doubt that God used that funeral to change my life—and the lives of many others.
So if you catch me crying, just know it may be the way God is using this situation to poke my soul and form in me something that must be developed. I believe that crying is a way the soul breathes. Sometimes we need to emotionally process something; to do so without letting my eyes water and without having a visceral response is to repress the feelings that must be expressed.
There are many great men who cried in the Bible, including my Savior, Jesus. I agree with the (at-times-weepy) King David, “Hear my prayer, Lord, and listen to my cry for help; do not be silent at my tears.” Form in me, Lord, what only You can create.
Thank you LORD, for Zack’s life, and as hard as this is to say—thank you also for what you’ve taught me in his death. Thank you that you’ve allowed a man I only met once or twice to impact me for the rest of my life. Teach me to “Live like Zack” and in doing so, may I live like Christ.