Thursday, June 11, 2009

Prayerfully seeking any thoughts/advice...

The following is a condensed version of a letter that I, recently, sent to a wonderful friend who is one of the most loving, Godly people I've ever met. The counsel I received was heartfelt, reassuring, guiding, and helpful. I just felt led to post these words in hopes that additional words of wisdom may be shared because time is of the essence and I still feel very un-convicted about what to do. Thank you, in advance, for taking the time to read and comment. I will sincerely appreciate any and all input.

I am dealing with such a sense of sadness; not in the sense of despair but a sadness that places an ache in my heart that is accompanied by a sense of emotional suffocation. I was reading the Biblical definition of love, according to 1 Corinthians 13.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

The Webster dictionary defines love as:
Affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests; Warm attachment, enthusiasm or devotion; Unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another


I can’t recall my dad ever having, genuinely, shown any of the above characteristics. I can recall one instance of possible sincerity but if it was, it was short-lived and ridiculed in future interactions. When I think of my dad, these descriptions come to mind: irritable, critical, indifferent, appalling, mean, two-faced, dangerous, harmful, unreliable, dishonest, con-artist, liar, thief, resentful, arrogant, insensitive, self-centered, condescending show-off, vulgar, destructive, disrespectful, criminal on several accounts, abusive (in all senses of the term), impatient, prejudiced, inconsiderate and unbearable.

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND why with knowing those things about him, do I still care about him and care about what he thinks of me?!? I hope that I would be more concerned if he did actually desire to have a relationship with me.

He doesn’t love me. He didn’t love me. And that fact, alone, has broken my heart. I realize, in my head, that the reality of that says more about him than it does me, but it hurts just the same. In my heart come the questions like why didn’t he love me? Why doesn’t he care? What did I do or not do? What did I lack? How did I disappoint him? How can I make it up to him? What was he looking for that I didn’t have? Why didn’t I have ‘it’?

Over the years, some have told me that my dad loved me as best as he knew how. Just days ago, my husband told me that my dad loved me as much as he was capable of loving. I may be wrong about this but those statements really offend me. I don’t believe that my dad was incapable or unknowing; he had choices to make. Even if it were a matter of incapability, there were choices made along the way that led to that proposed result. He could have done things differently. He could have chosen kinder words. He could have changed his vulgar words and actions. He could have attempted to make things right. He could have lived a life of honesty and integrity rather than one of destructiveness, thievery, hatefulness, and abuse. He could’ve done a lot of things but he chose not to. I realize that he had a crappy dad who treated all within his family horribly but so what…I, along with many others, had a crappy dad and chose not too be the kind of person that he has shown himself to be.

I disrespect the man. I despise him. I resent him. I am angry with him. BUT I don’t want him to be in pain. I can’t stand the thought of him being destroyed by cancer. I can’t fathom the concept of his spending eternity in hell. I want him to be physically okay yet at the same time, I wish him gone from my life, from my mind, from my heart, from my memories. I hate that I can’t seem to simply place him in the furthest recesses of my heart and mind.

I don’t want to go against God’s commands to “honor your father and mother” but how do I go about showing honor to one who is so dishonorable? I know that command doesn’t have conditions tied to it…it doesn’t say “honor your…if they…” What does God expect from one in this kind of situation? Part of me wants to reach out to my Dad, yet again…but the larger part of me wants to stay as far away as possible but in doing that, am I being too self-protective, judgmental and critical---which are some of the very things that I find so detestable about him?

I feel badly that my brother is the only one of 4 children who regularly communicates with the man. Am I being unfair in allowing my brother to be the one who attempts to maintain a relationship with our Dad? What are my responsibilities to my him and to my dad? Do I offer to help financially? Do I do nothing unless specifically asked? Do I seek information on the status of our Dad or just let my brother continue to tell me what he wants to, if and when he wants to? Do I make myself available regardless of the probable personal attacks (verbal, emotional, and potential physical) that will come?

I am weary and unsure what I am to do or even if I am to do anything. I keep praying and searching Scripture but have yet to find any clarity on this issue. ANY guidance here would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Stacy

4 comments:

  1. I love you sweetie, I am going to email you.

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  2. From what I've learned from the Word and listening to Christian radio, I don't think God expects you to keep trying to get your dad to love you. Have you read the book called Boundaries? I think one of the authors is Henry Cloud. I haven't read the whole book myself, but I think it would be helpful in your situation.

    You are obviously in a lot of pain. I think I should pray for you, because I don't know what advice to give, other than setting limits with how much you think about it. I don't think God expects us to be around people who mistreat us, or at least be around them if they are doing so.

    Hugs are coming your way from me. Sue

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  3. Stacy,
    I believe the reason you still care about him and what he thinks is because he is your father. His choices were not God's best. God created families, it is His perfect plan for man. A man and woman come together in Him, through this union children come and are raised to know, love and serve God and to also love one another along with their neighbors.

    Matthew 22:37-39
    To love the lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

    The world would be a wonderful place if sin had not come with all it's destruction.

    The wonderful thing is this...once you seek to love God with all that you are, He takes it from there. He enables you to love your neighbor, or in your case your abusive father. God will never call you to do something He has not equipped you to do. The very fact that you are struggling here shows that your heart is tender towards God and His plan for you.

    You are on the right track Stacy. Keep praying. Romans 8:26-27
    Likewise the spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

    Some things in life can be so difficult. This is one of those things Stacy. You are right to be cautious. It sounds like he has been destructive and hurtful in your life.

    We live in a fallen broken world. The only hope we have lies in a relationship with Jesus Christ. To be in Him is to follow Him, to allow His mercy, love and forgiveness to flow through us to the world around us.

    God calls us to be wise as serpents but gentle as doves Matthew 10:16

    It is wise to be wary, there is a history here. I do not think you are being unfair to your brother. I would encourage you to continue to pray. God is full of mercy and grace. He loves your father in spite of his awful choices in life. I don't know why some people can grow up in abuse but not turn into abusers themselves but many people do. Some people are weak, some are strong.

    I believe God's best is for reconciliation and healing. That being said, if your father is holding on to his sin and continues to be abusive I don't believe God would call you to endure any more pain from him. God is mighty and his love has changed some of the most vile people on this earth. He alone knows what lies in the hearts of men. We can never assume because of one's past that he or she is beyond the grace of God.

    For now if you cannot bring yourself to love your father, to reach out to him in Christ, just give that to God. He knows your pain, He wants to replace it with forgiveness and love. I will pray for you and for your father. I hope the scriptures have helped. I have claimed Romans 8:26 many times recently. I was in so much pain I didn't know how to pray. What a blessing it is to know that at times like that the Holy Spirit takes over for us.

    In Him,
    Tina

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  4. I really like what Sue and Tina say here. And what I have read of the book "Boundaries" is very good (I haven't read it all yet).

    Even in healthy homes there is a natural separation that takes place as a man or woman leaves home to marry another. Gen. 2 speaks of leaving-cleaving-weaving. You leave your home of origin, cleave to your mate, and weave a new life with your husband/wife.

    That cleavage is exacerbated when you have a home that IS NOT healthy. Personally, I think LEAVING that home is one of the means God uses to get us out of sin and dysfunction and into cleansing and healing.

    How do you honor your father under such circumstances? I don't know for sure. But, I'll propoose these thoughts. One, if in trying to honor your father you spend time with him BEFORE you are ready to, and you get pulled back into the cycle of dysfunction, anger, hostility, etc., you have done neither yourself, your dad, nor the Gospel any favors.

    Two, the best hope for you father, as I see it, is for you to live independently of his sinful lifestyle, grow a good and healthy marriage with your husband, and let your dad see your changed life. Perhaps it will stimulate him to seek the healthy and healing you have achieved.

    These are some general ideas. The nitty gritty details of family life - seeing him at a family wedding, him wanting to call sometimes (if he does), are thorny issues that are not the main issues, so deal with them as your able to at the time. If you want to talk to him, talk; if you don't, don't.

    Remember, you are not being selfish for wanting to be spiritually whole and to have a good home with your husband. God bless. wb

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