Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Journey of Forgiveness-part three

(Read part one here. Read part two here.)

A year later I got married. I asked Daddy to walk me down the aisle, mainly because I didn’t want to regret it years down the road if I didn’t. The following spring, my husband and I had our first of three beautiful daughters. She was brown eyed and had huge dimples in her sweet little cheeks.

Those first years of our marriage were pretty rocky. My husband went to college during the day and worked swing shift at night. I stayed home with our little girl. When my husband and I would argue, panic would well up within me and I’d threaten him that I was going to pack up and take the baby and leave. My biggest fear was of him leaving, of him trading me for someone else like Daddy had done to Mama. I figured if I was the one to go, I’d beat him to the punch.

The saving grace for our marriage was our determination to serve God and get help. I learned to
banish the word divorce from my vocabulary. I worked on disassociating my childhood hurts from my relationship with my husband. In the process of all of that, I was confronted with the fact that I needed to forgive my Daddy.

I sat down and wrote Daddy a letter, asking him to forgive me for harboring unforgiveness toward him all those years and telling him I forgave him. He wrote me back expressing his love for me, but it hurt a bit that he never admitted that what he’d done was wrong. He never said he was sorry for leaving.

Not long after that, just before our second daughter was born, I got a call that Daddy had had a heart attack, resulting in triple bypass surgery. I guess God used that to get Daddy’s attention, because he turned back to Jesus after that.

In the years that followed we had daughter number three and I stayed busy raising our girls and working beside my husband in the churches we pastored. Our contact with Daddy was infrequent, due more to the fact that he felt like a stranger to me, than from bitterness. My daughters never really knew their grandfather. As my own relationship with God matured, childhood hurts and residual pockets of unforgiveness towards Daddy, layer upon layer, became healed.

When our youngest daughter was approaching middle school age, we got word that Daddy’s wife’s health was very bad, so bad that both her and Daddy needed to be moved into an assisted living facility. It was there that Daddy’s wife died.

In the meanwhile, Daddy’s health declined. He had Parkinson’s disease as well as dementia. He was moved to a care facility closer to my home and I began to visit him more often. He was often back in World War Two in his mind, but when I talked to him about Jesus, read the Bible to him, or sang an old hymn he would track right along with me. During those visits, I began to remember all the things I had loved about my Daddy as a little girl. I began to realize the enormity of the grace of God, and knew beyond a doubt that Daddy had made things right with God and was ready to meet his Maker. My Mama had even gone to see Daddy and the two of them had asked forgiveness of one another.

One warm, sunny afternoon I was driving to visit Daddy and pondering the goodness and grace of God and the healing He had brought into my heart in regards to my daddy. The thought entered my mind that Daddy had never once asked me to forgive him, or told me he was sorry for leaving us. However, the thought was more like a random fact flitting through my mind. There was no more pain attached to it.

When I arrived at the care facility, Daddy and I went out into the hallway near his room and sat next to one another on a vinyl covered bench. I put my arm around Daddy’s shoulders, the shoulders of the man that as a little girl I believed to be the most handsome and strongest man in the world. “I love you, Dad”, I said. With perfect clarity he responded, “I love you too. The hardest day in my life was the day I sat you kids down and told you I was leaving your mama”, and he proceeded to describe everything about the room we had sat in, the moment he told us he was leaving, in all the same detail as it was etched into my memory. He told me he was sorry and asked me to forgive him. I told him I already had.

The phone rang early one morning, jarring me awake. The caller said he regretted to inform me that my Daddy had just passed away. By this time, Daddy was in a care facility just blocks from my house. My husband and I rushed down there, and I hurried down the hall to Daddy’s room. He was still in his bed, looking like I had just caught him napping. There was a smile on his face. He had gone in peace. It was well with his soul, and I could say my final goodbye knowing it was well with mine too. 


Still Following,











26 comments:

  1. I love the way the story ends, and I feel overwhelmed thinking of all the ways in which I'm CERTAIN God has used this part of your life to minister to and bring healing to others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought the exact thing, Brandee! What an amazing ending.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for sharing Elizabeth. As the first commenter pointed out, I am sure God has allowed this trial in your life to comfort and minister to others. I have a good friend whose father was abusive and died before she was ever saved. After she came to Christ she has since forgiven him and is getting ready to teach a class for victims of abuse in the local Celebrate Recovery Ministry. Beauty for ashes...only God!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. So touching. God never gives up.

    (coming over from Emily's imperfect prose link-up. . .)

    Amanda over at hillpen

    ReplyDelete
  4. I know how important daddies are to their daughters. I'm so glad your story has a happy ending. I'm glad you found forgiveness and some kind of understanding. This is such a reminder to me, that my forgiveness to others is a gift to me. My dad and I are cordial. I wish we were closer and maybe, someday, we will be. Thanks for sharing your story of forgiveness.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Beautiful! The power of forgiving is so important to all of us. We all need to do as you did forgive and allow God to touch our hearts and minds so we can be pealed like an onion layer after layer till it's all removed and gone! Thank you so much for this story. I needed to hear it and realize how there are some areas I need to forgive and let go.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Elizabeth, Yours is a heartwarming and encouraging story of the healing power of forgiveness! What a wonderful gift to be able to have those sweet times with him before he died.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I knew your story was going to have a happy ending but I didn't know the details. I'm so glad you shared, Elizabeth. It's beautiful that you forgave without him asking, and that he apologized without you needing it anymore. Grace all around.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh, Elizabeth! I just have chills. I am so glad you wrote this, wrote down your heartache and pain, and bore witness that our God really does heal, reconcile, and restore. What a gift He gave to you and your daddy. Just undone here.

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a beautiful story of forgiveness and God's grace...so glad you were able to forgive him before he ever asked for it, and that you could have such a happy ending...and that God kept you and your husband together...blessings, Elizabeth :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is a beautiful testimony of God's grace and forgiveness. Thanks for sharing the way God has worked in your life. www.toshowthemjesus.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. Elizabeth, God writes a beautiful story. We see brokenness; He sees cracks for His glory to shine through. Thank you for sharing this.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Your story just makes me love Jesus more..the grace of God is so enormous isn't it! Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  13. thank you for sharing... I think the part I loved best was when you said that layers over layers of hurt were healed. You are blessed
    Elizabeth and I am blessed that I found this beautiful site of yours.
    God bless you

    gwyneth

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wonderful grace of Jesus - greater than all our sins! A beautiful picture of His grace in your life - and your daddy's. Thank you for sharing. I've been deeply touched!
    ~Adrienne~

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you so much for sharing your story, it was just so touching.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh my, Elizabeth, what a powerful story you have told, and so brave. I haven't experienced quite the same things, but I have experienced the childhood wounds that affect my marriage--separating my relationship with my father and my husband. I think this story could help women find healing. Blessings to you.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for sharing. It is so good to read and learn how God works in us, if we only let him.

    ReplyDelete
  18. An awesome story, Elizabeth. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    ReplyDelete
  19. What a powerful story, written by a powerful Author.
    Beautiful blog you've got here -- my first visit.
    (thanks for coming by my place, too. :))

    ReplyDelete
  20. I find myself in this story Elizabeth, only the endings haven't turned out as well as they did for your father. But God has granted me the grace to forgive, as I would want to be forgiven, from my heart. And the endings belong to God! He wants ALL to be saved & so do I. Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

    ReplyDelete
  21. Love this. Love you. Love the redemptive thread through this. Thank you, friend, for sharing such an intimate moment.

    ReplyDelete
  22. oh my goodness elizabeth. the ending. it is such a God ending. and the fact that you called your father "Daddy" throughout it all, showed me the deep forgiveness and love you've encountered... thank you for sharing this incredible story. love you.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Elizabeth, An online friend just referred me to your blog for the first time, and oh, this story about your daddy went deep into my soul. My father left our family when I was 14 after he and my mom had been married for 31 years. It wrecked all of us, it seemed, except my dad. He remarried and did well. My mother had a nervous breakdown and stayed in bed for nine months. My older brothers began to attack and hate each other, and they haven't reconciled for these forty years. I know that as long as there's life, there's hope, and I keep praying. Thank you for your beautiful writing and honest, forgiving heart. I will bookmark your blog and look forward to coming back to peruse more. God bless you in a very personal way today, Elizabeth....

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank you for sharing your heart. Thank you for speaking things that I needed to hear in regard to my father as well.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Incredible story. Thank you for sharing, Elizabeth. I too noticed how you called him "Daddy" all the way through...

    Forgiveness is incredible...it blesses both the giver and receiver.

    ReplyDelete

The best thing about blogging is hearing from you!
I'd love for you to leave a comment! Click subscribe by email if you want me to be able to reply to you.