Morris Pettit

Morris Pettit, Sheila’s father (my first wife who died in 1980), passed from this life into the next this past Tuesday, July 14.

I am sad today. Morris, even 29 years after Sheila’s death, called me “son.” I have experienced the joy of family, the model of a good father, and the grace of sonship from this good man. He will be sorely missed.

I leave tomorrow for Ellijay, GA. I had promised Morris that I would speak at this funeral–he called me his “favorite preacher” (well, of course, though he had not heard me preach in years). Friday evening I will keep my promise.

This, I anticipate, will be a difficult moment for me. The visitation will be in the same funeral home where I sat with Sheila’s body for hours. The funeral will be in the same building where we remembered Sheila’s life. The burial will be in the same cemetery where Sheila lies. He will be laid next to her.

I have blogged previously how certain feelings surround that funeral experience in 1980. Uncontrolled grief. Embarrassment. Hurt. But….I have recently begun to see that experience with different eyes.

For years when I thought of Sheila’s funeral I could only see the embarrassment, tears, grief and pain. The fog of the great sadness colored everything grey so that I could not see the love present there. I could not see the love of the children from Potter Children’s Home who came to sing at the funeral, I could not see the love of my parents and siblings, I could not see the love the Pettit family (my in-laws) had for me as if I were their own son (and to this day they still call me “son”), I could not see the love of my best man who came at great expense from Oklahoma to stand beside me at the grave (thanks Bruce!), I could not see…. The list could go on.

Great sadness distorts the goodness and love of God. It blinds us to love. The fog creates distrust and fear. But the love of God is nevertheless present in the great sadness. God was present at Sheila’s funeral. God wept with me. God was present through the love that others showered on me–all love flows from God. I can see that love now.

Surrounded by love, God spoke a word into my heart that day that I can only now begin to hear: “You are my beloved.”

Now I go to whisper those same words into the ears of Laura and Morris’ sons (and their wives) and grandchildren. Thanks for your love, my family and friends.

9 Responses to “Morris Pettit”

  1.   Keith Price Says:

    John Mark,
    You’ve come along way my friend. My prayers are with you. Maybe you can help them greive in such a way that their vision of God’s love is not blurred. ” I once was lost but now I’m found, twas blind but now I see.”

  2.   Royce Ogle Says:

    Thanks for sharing this part of your life. A very touching thing to say the least.

    As you may or may not remember, I too lost a wife at almost 44 years old, far too early from my perspective. I too still have close knit relationships with her family and for that I am very thankful.

    I love you brother,

  3.   K. Rex Butts Says:

    May God’s grace and peace be with you both as a mourner and as one called to comfort the mourners.

    Grace and peace,


  4.   Todd Hall Says:

    I will never forget you, how you were with me in the midst of my own pain. I’ll be praying for you today and this week. I thank God for you.


  5.   rich Says:


  6.   Jeff Cozzens Says:

    John Mark,

    You mean so much to me. Please take care of yourself so that you can minister to those of us that are not as strong in the faith as you.

    There is rarely I time that I do not come away from your blog with deeper spiritual insight.

    Rom 8:28

  7.   Kerry Says:

    This is such a helpful post, John Mark. Thank you for your transparency, honesty, and mature perspective of God. Thank you.


  8.   Terrell Lee Says:

    I’m deeply grateful you share your heart as you do. Your insights are valuable to all your readers and hearers. I love you brother.

  9.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    Thanks, all. The several days were a wonderful experience of love and grace. It was a honor to celebrate Morris’ life with friends and family.

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