Chip Dizárd

Church Media and Technology Expert

Facing Harsh Reality

Harsh Reality

My family is very private.  Well, we are private like most families about struggles and sickness.  I grew up always thinking everything was ok, and even in marriage I would sweep many things under the “proverbial” rug.  The problem is that the rug would get so large that my true feelings would eventually surface.

One of my favorite  books is  by Jim Collins called “From Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap …and Some Don’t
In the book  he interviewed Admiral Jim Stockdale, who was the highest ranking US Officer in the Hanoi Hilton Prison Camp during the Vietnam War. Shot down over North Vietnam. Tortured over 20 times during his 8 years in prison. He had no prisoners rights, no set release date, and no certainty he would come out alive to his wife.

Jim asked the Admiral the question “Who didn’t make it out?”

”Oh, that’s easy” he said. “The optimists”.

“Oh, they were the ones who said, “We’re going to be out by Christmas.” And Christmas would come and Christmas would go. Then they would say “we’re going to be out by Easter”. And Easter would come and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Another long pause, and more walking. Then he turned to Collins and said, “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

For the last two years, my father has been in and out of the hospital having multiple surgeries, and as I write this blog I am sitting in the hospital ICU waiting room.  I have not given up on him, but last night I faced the harsh reality that he won’t be here  much longer.  After visiting his room I know he doesn’t want to live like this. I needed time alone after all my family and visitors left to have my harsh reality check.  It was a catharsis for me.

What harsh realities are you facing now and how will you handle them?

23 Replies

  1. Richdubose

    Courage to you man! This planet is getting way too old. My prayers are with you guys.

  2. Geoff

    Hey Damian,
    Just got back (few hours ago) from a second visit with my dad since a crazy scare last month.  He and Mom drove up from VA and I joined the convoy as he passed my part of the beltway and we all headed up to Andrea’s in DE.  What a gorgeous day the next morning when I woke and went for a stroll with Dad and Mom.  As we parted ways, I cautioned my three boys to savor the precious moments with Granddad and Grandma, look deep into their eyes and tell them you love them.  After they were gone I realized I hadn’t practiced what I preached.  Two days later, my dad collapsed when he rose and went to the bathroom.  After 52 years of happy marriage, my mom thought this was it…  I sat helplessly in dialog with my mom and niece and listening to my Dad’s fading voice.

    Thank God, he’s OK, but I was down there two days later and again since last Thursday.  What a wonderful weekend and time well spent…  Life is precious.  This time, as I parted I said to Dad, “I’m determined to live well so there are no regrets.”

    Last year, Bert Brown and I spent some a good time with your dad.  It was just like old time and refreshing hearing his precision chosen words and hearty laughter.  I remember how you and Erica were his pride and joy.  I have pictures to prove it :-)

    I shared what’s happening with Mom and Dad.  Please know that the Greaves are praying for the Dizards.  We love you, Clarence, Valeria, Erica (the perfect little family), your new family too (the perfect next generation) and look forward to the day when we can permanently say goodbye to saying goodbye.Sincerely,
    *** Geoff ***

  3. Dtongwela

    Chip, what a reality at 40.  God is gracious!  I can only think of the fun times we had as kids, in a group, during game or movie nights in your basement or at church.  Who could clean like your dad?  Your dad would have the infamous trash bag cleaning up, with a smile.  The best part was him removing your plate from the table before you could finish eating – you might even have the fork going into your mouth when your plate got swiped:)!  Next, who knows African-American history like your dad?  I think of him every February or when I pass Edmonson H.S.  Last, who knows best how not to answer the house phone better than Bro. Dizard?  

    My dear friend, my heart is with you and your family during this time as I remember the fond moments with your dad.     

  4. Garrett Caldwell


    We usually think of community as the people who share either proximity to us or who share certain passions with us, and it is true, these are important members of our community. When we experience moments of incredible pain or disappointment a whole new community emerges – people who have lived through similar experiences, who can roll up their sleeves and reveal the scars that life has left on them.

    Thank you for sharing your pain, even as a private person. We are all strengthened when we pull together to comfort one another and share our own stories as I see several of your friends have done.

    The shadow of death under which we all live will be erased one morning and we will never have to worry about it again. My wife and I learned this when our first full term pregnancy ended in the death of our son. We are reminded of it as our aging parents begin to lose their siblings and I am reminded as I read your story. May the grace of God be with you and your family at this time.

    Garrett Caldwell

  5. Julia K Baez

    hey Chip-

    so sorry to hear about your Dad. You and your family will be in our prayers. Hope to catch up with you soon. Miss you friend!


  6. Cherry

    Thanks for sharing Chip! Just know that you are prayed and cared for and I understand. I lost my dad, and reality hit!! We are never ready, continue to spend your time with him. Praying for you and your family at this difficult time. Love u PFA baby!!

  7. Hey Chip, as a pastor I see the devastation that hits people when they finally face that harsh reality too late. I think it’s a great thing that you are finding the courage to face it now rather than later. You mentioned Jim Collins. He wrote another book that inspired a recent sermon I preached. That book is entitled “Great By Choice.” His point is that storms are coming. We live in uncertain times, challenges, reversals are all coming. We cannot avoid them; we can only prepare for them. For me the biblical parable that captured his thoughts was Jesus’ teaching that the wise man built his house upon a Rock. Storm comes. It’s uncomfortable. But you built (are building) on a Firm Foundation (The Solid Rock). Speak those words of reassurance to you Dad, your Mom, your sister. We know that this ends well because our faith is in the One who got up on this weekend we just celebrated. You remain in my prayers.

  8. Sheldon Kennedy

    Chip,  I truly appreciate you man.  You can count on us for prayer and laughter or anything that you need.  

  9. Drangelabrown

    The harsh reality hitting me is …. I sat where you sit about 4 weeks ago with the same feeling you have right now. The harsh reality is as you sit there now I sit at home after burying my daddy 12 days ago getting use to my new normal. This is the hardest thing I have done since matriculating through Meharry Medical College. Be as strong as you can. Talk to your dad! Love on your dad! Make sure he is comfortable. I sure did and I am glad I did !

  10. Keeping your family in prayer Chip. I was blessed by your thought-provoking comments. My reality is that I see my parents friends one by one slipping away. I realize, it is only a matter of time, and l AM NOT READY! I can therefore only empathize that your reality check has come, sooner than you want it to. Our blessed hope is that a day will come when there will be no more sickness, no more pain, and best of all NO MORE DEATH!

  11. Chip, I am praying for you and your family.  I had the exact same experience with my grandmother. Words cannot describe that moment.  I promised her that when Christ returned and she was raised to meet him, that if she held out her hand, (at first I said “look over your shoulder” but I realized she would not be taking her eyes off Jesus!) I would be there to clasp it.  It’s these times that the promise of His return, and the hope we have of a new life in Him, has so much meaning.  Find comfort in the knowledge that God is on our side.  Love you much!

  12. Chip, I am keeping you and your family in my prayers. I pray that God will send you a double portion of strength. I know this is very difficult for you and your family. I agree with Robert, we all face challenges. I think it’s most important to share our challenges so we can encourage one another. I will continue to keep you and your family in prayer. Much Love my brother!

  13. Karlea

    Thank you for sharing this personal experience, Chip. I am thankful that you have time to be where you are mentally and to be with your dad while processing things.

    My harsh reality is that I lost my dad several months ago suddenly and tragically.  No one saw it coming, so we weren’t really thinking about gathering around him and loving on him.  We didn’t get to be with him or say goodbye. I miss my daddy deeply.

    The love and honor you are showing your dad is so valuable. I have not faced a parent’s possible death from illness, but I do know what it’s like to actually lose your dad and grieve. You and your family are in my prayers!

    1. Karlea,  That is rough.  I remember when I heard about your Dad and that was horrible, but we have a blessed hope. 

  14. Dude, it’s never easy to see a loved one having to deal with pain and coming to terms with the fact that at some point in the future, you’re dad will not be available to you anymore. Enjoy each day that you have now. Love hard, laugh lots, and clear the air where needed. Your future will be better as a result. Praying for you both!

  15. Grace

    Chip, Thank you for reaching out in the middle of your own stress and difficulty to share your experiences and reflections with us, along with that meaningful quote from the “Good to Great” book! You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers as you go through this!

  16. Janelle

    Almost in tears… this is one of the hardest things for believers to face. That it may not work out how we want or pray.  That harsh reality.  But in faith we must know that God is sovereign and He sees, knows and has it all under His control.  Someday soon, all pain will cease.  Heaven is our goal.  Love you and I’m here for you brother!

    1. Thanks J! I appreciate your comment. Love you too! 

  17. I wish you and your family well.

  18. Robert Kennedy III

    Chip, you are one of the most awesome people I know.  As private as you THINK you are, your willingness and commitment to sharing some of your challenges is an inspiration to me and others I am sure.  The reality is, many people are private because they are nervous about admitting that they are just like everyone else, human.  We ALL have issues, we all have challenges and at some point we ALL come face to face with the prospect of hurt, loss, life and death.  You will make it through!  You have a support in me!  We’ve got some great things to do together sir.  Reach out if you need an ear.  Here for you.

    1. Thank you Bobby for your comment! Will do for sure.

  19. alanab08

    Brother, my prayers are with you. God is faithful to comfort during these challenging times.