Anyone who knows me on Facebook knows that I am politically and religiously outspoken. Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about the issue of the sanctity of marriage. As a part of this discussion, I posted the following picture:
A reasonable position, I think. A couple of days later I was sitting in a Buffalo Wild Wings, enjoying a very nice day with my wife and son. Joey was kicking butt at the video Texas Hold-em game. I decided to quickly check my Facebook when I found the following comment on my posted picture;
“There comes a time when you just need to say what is on your mind, after reading this post I felt the time has come. You say you are a Christian. You say you are not a hater, a bigot, judgmental or intolerant, yet you are all of these when it comes to your own father. I know I haven’t been the father to you and your brother that you deserve and for this I am so very sorry, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love both of you more then you will ever know. I know you have not heard both sides of what happened back years ago. I was raised in the church and I was always taught that your god is a forgiving god yet you with your Christian heart can’t find it in your heart to at least try and find a way to talk and try to find a way to here about me and believe me I am not the person I was. Dad”
First I would like to thank you for airing your dirty laundry on such a public forum as a comment on an open Facebook post. I thought that you and I had had this discussion twice before, and since you decided to make it public knowledge, I have decided to write this letter in a public and open forum for the purposes of helping other men who may be going through the same situation I am going through.
I decided years ago that a relationship between you and I was never going to happen, but, we never really had one did we? You left me when I was two. This wounded me. You have no idea the wounds I still deal with today because of that abandonment. Sure, there would be visits and occasional interactions with a man that I didn’t really know and didn’t really know me. The question that haunts me is this, I can understand not being able to stay married to my mother, but what was so important where you went that was more important than sticking around and being a father to your two sons? At the time, your only two children.
Then during my adult life, I would hear from you about every two years. You always claim that you were never the dad that my brother and I deserved, but you wanted to have any kind of relationship you could get with us. I was hopeful but naive.
Then, I became a father. This had a very profound effect on me. I looked down on this perfect little boy, so full of hope and potential and I came to realize that I had no idea what it meant to be a dad. You see, I didn’t have one growing up. I lacked that training. As a result, I made a vow. I made a vow that no man should ever have to make. “I will be nothing like my father”. That is a vow to break a curse. A curse of neglect and abandonment. Sure, I will make my mistakes. I am still human, but I have taken steps to minimize the wounds I give to my son. First I have asked God to father me. He has come through with this big time. He has provided many godly men in my life to mentor me and show me how to be a dad. He has given me a hunger to read books about Christian manhood and fatherhood. He has given me a beautiful, godly wife. One who respects and honors me, and He has given me a son with a longing to be like and with his dad.
I know that you have not had an easy life, and I know that the relationship between you and your father was probably not all it should have been. Sometimes I get the feeling that you are looking for relief from the guilt of your past and your shortcomings. Like I have told you in the past, I have forgiven you of all of that. By forgiving you I have given up any right to hold anything against you for anything you might have done. That doesn’t mean I can forget. I still hurt, and because of that and your history of not following through with your attempts at a relationship, I have chosen to distance myself and my family from you. I have chosen not to be hurt anymore. I have chosen to release you from any obligations to try to force a relationship that just isn’t going to happen. It’s painful for everyone involved.
Years ago, when I began my quest for Christian manhood, I read a book that revolutionized my life. It was Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. This book had such a profound effect on my life and so specifically applied to my life, that I thought it would help with our relationship if you would read it too. So I mailed you a copy with a letter explaining all of this. I guess I was hoping that, after having you read this book, I would get a phone call from you that would be the beginning of a real reconciliation. I waited and waited…and waited. Nothing. Not a word. Yet another disappointment, another heartbreak. I guess that was when I started to realize that I was devoting way too much energy to something that was never going to happen. That was the energy that I needed to start using on my son, and my wife and healing my own heart.
Now, to address your comment on my Facebook post. “You say you are a Christian. You say you are not a hater, a bigot, judgmental, or intolerant, yet you are all of these when it comes to your own father.” As I said before, I forgive you. I don’t hate you and I don’t judge you. (I don’t know where the bigot and the intolerant come in.) Hating and judging you would be devoting more energy to the situation. I want you to be happy and live a full life. From what I can tell, you have a great relationship with your oldest daughter and her family. That’s great! You should put your focus there. Be thankful for what you have. Be the best dad and grandfather you can be. Don’t try to force something that’s not going to happen when you already have a good thing there.
“I know you have not heard both sides of what happened back years ago.” No, I haven’t heard either side of what happened when you left, all I know is that you left. What happened between you and my mom is irrelevant. Discussing that would only serve to cause more woundedness. I am trying to look to the future and not the past. If you feel the need to share what happened way back when then I would be willing to read about it in a written letter. With a letter, I have the freedom to take my time and digest it at my own speed. The freedom to respond or not. Just know that my willingness to accept a letter is not an invitation to a relationship.
“I was raised in the church and I was always taught that your god is a forgiving god yet you with your Christian heart can’t find it in your heart to at least try and find a way to talk and try to find a way to here about me and believe me I am not the person I was.” Does the fact that you were raised in the church mean that you are an expert on all things Christian or Biblical? I am currently a part of a local church and pursuing a relationship with Christ, and I’m not an expert. This is the part of your comment that I thought was very judgmental, after you accused me of being judgmental. I have heard you out. We have had this discussion, at least twice, and every time you bring it up again is just more painful. I am glad that you aren’t the person you used to be, whatever that means. Like I said before, the new you should concentrate on being a good dad and grandfather to those in your life right now. To be very honest, the tone of this sentence you commented on my post seems to try to guilt me into a relationship with you, and is that how a father/son relationship should be fostered?
I know that this letter may seem harsh, but it is a very difficult and sensitive subject. I do forgive you and I wish you nothing but happiness. I know that just because I tell you that you are forgiven, you may not feel forgiven, but there is nothing I can do to help you feel that way. I will continue to pray for you. I pray that you come to a saving realization of Christ and find a close personal relationship with Him in a way that fulfills you like nothing else can. He loves you and wants to restore your heart.
Now to the other readers of this letter; If you are a man who finds himself in the unfortunate situation of being separated or divorced from your wife or the mother of your children, I am truly sorry for that. Don’t make the regrettable mistake of leaving your children for something you might think is better for you. Your children need you more than you know, and whether you know it or not, you need them. Leaving them would wound them and possibly start a generational pattern of neglect and abandonment.
Christ wants to restore your heart, your relationship with your wife, and your children. You may have heard the verse that says “The wages of sin is death” Something I have noticed is that you may not always be the one that does the suffering for your sin. Sometimes that burden is passed on to the ones you leave behind.
Let God The Father father you. He is waiting to. He wants to put godly men in your life to mentor and counsel you. Put away your pride and submit. Submit to God, to His Word, and to those godly men that He blesses you with. Pride is probably what got you into this situation, it is definitely not what will get you out of it.