Love Has A Name: “Dad”

Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
~ Ephesians 4:32 ~

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the beginning of a search that changed my life. In December 1987 I found myself in a counselor’s office wanting to know the cause of the ulcers in my stomach. A middle-aged woman, quiet and gentle in her ways, told me what I already knew, but didn’t want to acknowledge:  I had to get right with my father.

“Write down everything that you have against your father; every single grievance. Then, write them in a letter to your dad. We’ll go over it next time we meet.”

At the next meeting, she read my letter, folded it back up, and handed it to me, “That’s a detailed explanation of each grievance. Now go and read it to  your father.” My face must have registered how incredulous her statement was, but she was not deterred by my, “I can’t!”

She told me that healing wouldn’t come until I complied; that our future meetings would be meaningless. She waited while I fought with myself and smiled when I agreed to meet with my father.

We were sitting together, on the sofa. I pulled out the letter and read it to him. By the time I was finished, all those grievances had rolled down my face as tears. He gently put his arm around me, “Mary (only my family called me Mary), in the old days men were taught not to show any emotion, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have feelings. I love you, I always have. I just don’t show it or say it.”

He didn’t have to say, “I’m sorry for hurting you. Forgive me.” Or, “I forgive you, Mija,” because my heart melted as love for him flooded in.

“Dad, I’m so sorry for hurting you,” I blubbered. He took me in his arms and caressed my hair. That night ended years of resentment, bitterness, and anger.

Dad, Noah, and me in 2002.

When I spoke with my counselor about that evening’s meeting, I no longer spoke of him as “my father,” but “my dad.”

Dad and I had a different understanding about our relationship. We loved each other without him having to say so, but he did, every now and then. Whenever I went home I gave him a hug and kiss and told him that I loved him. When I said, “Dad, I love you,” he knew I meant it.

If we hadn’t reconciled, I would have never known what a warm, tender, and loving man he was. I would have missed years of being able to comfort each other when my brother and mother died.

He’s been home with the Lord for 5 years now; I miss him so much! I’m thankful we reconciled our relationship, because regardless of age, a girl/woman still needs her daddy.

Father, thank You for the years I had with Dad before he went home to you. Reconciliation is something that You desire for us, both with You and with each other. I pray for those whose familial relationships are broken; that You, being our good, good Father, would make a way for reconciliation to happen. Bless those relationships with Your love and grace. We ask in the name of Jesus, amen.

 

 

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