Flesh and Blood and Tears

It was a burnt bridge.  Charred by the chasm of bitterness, hatred and anger that had simmered for years.

“Good” reasons to maintain my unforgiving heart. I had been let down, hurt, abused, disappointed, neglected, abandoned and wounded by this person.  This person that was supposed to protect me from all those things.

My dad.

My dad and nephew at Thanksgiving 2010

For thirteen {count them, thirteen!} years, I let the coals of that burnt bridge remain red hot with the seething anger and grief.  I fed the flames by recounting the wrongs and justifying my disdain.

I was also afraid.  If I forgave him, did that mean I had to work towards a restored relationship?  If I wanted to rebuild a relationship, there would be people that would not be supportive.  He had hurt more than just me.

10/14/08: The experience of almost dying has removed most fear from my life and left in it’s place a desire for peace, calm and restoration. ~An excerpt from my prayer journal

Around that same time in my life, Isaiah 58 became a sacred echo in my life.  I would read it in a devotion book, found myself drawn back to it’s words in my quiet time and even went to my Pastor to gain a deeper understanding of the words.

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Isaiah 58: 6-7

The words pierced my calloused heart.  My father had reached out to me over the years with a desire to apologize.  My brothers vouched for the fact that he was a changed man.  But, for thirteen years I turned away from him, from them and turned to my hurt and my pain.

That October I began allowing God access to those broken places.  He bound up my wounds and healed my soul in ways that only our Heavenly Father can.

It was a painful, grueling process but well worth the work.  On the other side of letting God heal my heart and forgiving my dad I found peace and healing I never thought possible.

Just as Isaiah 58 promises:

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. Isaiah 58:8-9

After months of intensive healing with Jesus, I had a desire to tell my dad I had forgiven him.  I flew to Florida to stay with my brother.  I wrote a letter and left it up to God if I would deliver it while I was there.  I prayed during the entire flight and by the time my brother picked me up at the airport, I asked if we could go straight to my dad’s {after coffee, of course}.

Tears well up in my eyes as I even type this.  February 2009 marked the beginning of a beautiful restorative process that God deserves all the credit for.

I gave my dad that letter and he gave me what I needed…a sincere apology and space.

Over the last two years, we have tentatively rebuilt the bridge between him and I.  My children know their grandfather.  I have an adorable little brother that I had never met (he just turned four in August).  And, I have my dad back.

Thankfully, God brought a wonderful Christian woman into his life more than 10 years ago.  I love her, I love my dad and I love the peace that comes from forgiveness and restoration of relationships.

It was not an easy or pleasant journey.  Rather, the work to rebuild the charred bridge was painful, heavy and sad.

But, oh so worth it!

Comments

  1. This is such an honest post, thank you for sharing it as I have been through a similar journey. In fact those scriptures are the very ones I clung to as the Lord took me through the fire!

  2. Thank you for your encouraging words, Lisa!

  3. Accompaniedlife says:

    I’ve been reading your archives for almost an hour now, and your words about reconciling with your father shine like a streetlight in this post and in your ‘about me’ post.  Thank you.  If you can forgive him and be reconciled, surely I can forgive those who have sinned against me as well.

  4. I’m working on forgiveness now with my ex-husband and his wife. After 20 yrs I am still working on it. The adultery, the lies, the games, the hatred on both sides. I am just now trying to work on it well have been the last couple weeks. Its hard. This came at a good time. thanks!!!!

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