But if there is shame and there likely is – – let me speak truth. It was not your fault – – it was abuse, and in a culture that over-victimizes – – some examples still ring true. I am so sorry, and I’m so grateful for God’s healing and redemption. love letter – – part 1
And what of the rest of your story? Your father likes the hymn Amazing Grace, doesn’t he? It is my favorite too for reasons I will explain. So who would love an addicted, adulterous man? Jesus would. Another form of rescue. It almost seems like your mother’s manipulations, criticism and lack of support for Russell at the first stings you more than your father’s crimes. My mom has had a very similar effect on my sister and I’m . . . well, I’m conflicted. Is your mother better now than she was ten years ago? And what is your father like now? Is he still dating his bride? Is he humble? Is his hypocrisy now as evident? We all tell one story to the audience of the world and another, more close to the truth to our closest others.
The only completely honest story we ever tell is the one lived before the audience of one. To the extent that we can live without shame before each other — well that is the work of the Lamb. From what Russell shared about his own family, with your letter and with my knowledge of my history and Mrs. Pascal’s I think hers is the only one I can look to as a model to pursue. So Russell and J must build something they did not have. Russell and J must follow Christ in a way that does not lead E to stumble. What happens when we look at the faith of our parents and find it lacking? Do we flee and call them hypocrites? Do we forgive and pray? Is the story written in the middle? As you consider your faith and family now and those who first taught you there are certainly fond selective memories, but the balance reveals shallow water and no anchor. I hope the story is not complete – – I hope your father places an anchor as a grandfather, and I hope that your mother humbles herself before you and validates your success as a woman, wife, and mother.
How was my story similar? I came to sincerely doubt the authenticity and relevance of my parent’s faith. That loosened the anchors of my own. I was also the first born of my parents, born in 1972. My mother married at 19, had my brother and sister, and was left by her husband who was committed to a mental hospital and ran away with one of the nurses when he was released. I remember that story early – – only much later did sister supply another side that made my mother look less the martyr. Mom was raised in a privileged home by society alcoholics. Dad was raised as the first born in a depression family – – grandpa was actually an ice man before refrigeration brought obsolescence. Dad was the oldest of four. Concerning his side of the family in California, I’ve only met most of them twice and I wouldn’t recognize a first cousin – – I have six. Mom came to faith through the Billy Graham tract Peace with God and began attending First Baptist Church in Van Nuys, California. My Dad was thirty years old and never married – – less common then. There was no money for college and he was the first so he joined the Air National Guard and worked his way through Cal Poly (a lot like A&M) in seven years.
Always a tinkerer, he became a mechanical engineer. So they met in the singles group and sang in the choir. And my dad loved her and her children. They married and he adopted sister and brother. Dad had a good job with a refrigeration/air conditioning company called York. He designed industrial refrigeration systems. The irony just struck me. Ice man to refrigeration engineer. They attended the Baptist Church and enjoyed the blended family – – hoping to have a child together. Mom had two Caesarians and several miscarriages and was told that another child was unlikely and unwise. She wanted that child badly and I believe miscarried twice more before I was born.
-to be continued-
Photo credit: Handwritten letter by Descarte: by PHGCOM [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) via Wikimedia Commons