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Father’s Day

Today is Sunday, June 21, 2015. It’s Father’s Day. I have a lot of mixed emotions.

My dad still hasn’t reached out to me to try to talk to me, repent, reconcile, explain, or anything of the sort. He did send me a birthday gift recently. I suppose technically it is an act of communication. But it’s not one that feels very good. It’s not an act of communication which opens up the door to further conversation or relationship. To be honest, given how he has treated me and the rest of my family and many of his friends, I don’t see the sending of the gift as an act of love. I see it as him trying to feel better about himself as a father.

I didn’t reach out to him to wish him a happy father’s day. I thought about it, because it is weird after 29 years of having a relationship with one’s father to suddenly not and suddenly on father’s day for him to be absent by his own choice. It would also be disingenuous. I don’t want him to have a happy father’s day. I hope he has a miserable father’s day.

Believe it or not, I don’t wish this upon him because of some quest for vengeance. Some days I want revenge upon him for what he has done. But not today. Not most days. Thank God for the grace and mercy He has given to me so I might be equipped through His love to extend it to others. I do not hope he has a bad father’s day because I want him to suffer miserably. I think having a bad father’s day is what would be best for him.

Really. Imagine you abandon your kids and your wife to go sleep with other women and spend time with them and their kids. Imagine you treat your kids so horribly and then a day comes around which is purposed to celebrate you for the love you have for your kids. Of course you should feel terrible on this day. You should be thinking about the way you broke your relationships with your children. You should be feeling the pain of not having relationships with them. You should be full of regret.

If, in these circumstances, you have a happy and wonderful Father’s Day, then you’re a sociopath. You have no regard for others or willingness to experience the pain of the actions you caused. At least if he has a bad Father’s day, he is experiencing the pain his sinful actions have caused him. Perhaps his heart will become more tender because of the pain and he will be closer to repentance and turning his life back toward God.

Even though I am not too keen on Mitch at present, I don’t throw out the parent with the bathwater. There are a lot of character traits Greg exhibited in the past I am grateful to have experienced. He worked hard. He spent many mornings of my childhood up early reading the Bible and praying. He was willing to help people who needed it, sometimes even over and over after they kept screwing up. He helped out at church a lot, filling whatever roles he thought needed to be filled. All of the qualities are worth imitating, remembering fondly, and being grateful for.

However, when it comes to relationships, the present means a lot more than the past. You can’t have a relationship with memories. Positive memories don’t undo mistreatment of the present. They can’t fix the divide.

Sometimes I wonder on days like today what would I do if Mitch repented? What would I do if he actually was sincere about wanting to follow Jesus and therefore wanting to do whatever he could in his own power to set things right with his kids? What if he was open, honest, and seeking reconciliation? How would I respond?

I still don’t know. While certainly I would offer forgiveness and would be open to a conversation, one on my terms, I don’t know if I would be open to having a relationship with him or not. He is a person who has treated not just me, but those I am close to, love, and care for, with great disregard… that’s a nice word… with great evil. He blew up a family and left everyone else to deal with the consequences of his actions.

He left a young child alone and confused with a mother who was also alone and confused. He left his wife and church family in the middle of a dysfunctional time in the church’s life which he was well aware of. Rather than do something good, like working with his family and friends to bring positive changes to the church (among whom there were very many who would have worked with him side by side to do so), or to bring his family to one of the many other welcoming churches in the Chippewa Valley, he left everyone to deal with the mess they were in and added to it a whole other mess which was even more difficult and painful. He abandoned his wife and kids to run off with someone else, even though he knew they were in a precarious situation. He was well-placed in a position to bring about positive change in his church community on behalf of his family or to protect his family from potential harm by going elsewhere. Instead of this he abandoned his post, his wife, his kids, and his friends and ran off to sin without being held back and restrained by the relationships of those who loved him.

I’m not sure I would want a person who has been so heartlessly mean to those I love in my life even if he did regret his actions and want to change. I’m not sure I could trust someone who did those things. I’m not sure if he would be a safe person to be around, for me or for those close to me. Certainly if I had kids I would feel quite protective of them ever knowing him given his track record. It’s a difficult thing to think about and to know what is right, especially in the realm of the hypothetical.

If the pattern of the last 11 months is any indicator, I may never have to worry about it.

  1. Anonymous
    June 22, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Jeremiah, my heart goes out to you and your family. I pray for you and your family every day. Yes I do even for your father.

  2. June 29, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Thanks for sharing your heart, Jeremiah. My heart hurts for you and your family.

  3. June 30, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    This is a lot of awful truth. But, it is good to speak it, feel it, share it. The best part is who God has shown us all (our family) who He is in the middle of it. We have seen Him provide great love and care and blessings everyday that could not that only He could do. Mostly, we are, you, me, Jared, Jess, Graci and all of your spouses are all done being satisfied with less than what God has for us. Each in our own way, our own path, location even, seeking to know Jesus. Trust Him more. Follow Him more faithfully as He strengthens us to do so. Thank you for standing in love for us all. I love you. I love that you follow God. It’s going to keep getting better as we are able to see God work in this more and more. Go God!

  4. July 1, 2015 at 11:48 am

    Jeremiah, as I read your blog I couldn’t help but think “this could have been written by my husband”. Some of the details are a different, but overall the same experience that he had with his father.

    After years of trying to get his attention, win his approval, and have some semblance of a relationship, Greg called it quits with his father. Relief and freedom flooded in but not until a season of grieving had been completed. He grieved what had been: the pain, the neglect, the abuse, the rejection, the lies & betrayal, the missed opportunities; and then he grieved what would never be: the father and grandfather that would never go the distance, would never enjoy his wife and children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the missing person in all the future family photos, the experience of loving his dad to the end, and in the end, a celebration of a life well-lived.

    Once Greg answered the question with finality, “can I let him go?”, life was able to take on much more meaning and fullness. I’m not even suggesting that you need to do that or need to do anything. This was a deep and searing pain that only he could identify, accept and feel, question and probe, and then decide what he should do with it.

    This relational chasm that his father chose for the family had far-reaching effects for all involved. Some chose to become the caring parents and spouses that their father did not model, learning to unlearn hurtful ways and give lovingly and sacrificially to their families. Others chose to harbor bitterness and unforgiveness that has led to living critical, demanding and controlling lives; and for some resulted in generational alcohol and drug dependency.

    My Greg is a better man, better husband, better dad and grandpa, and a better child of God, because of the pain he endured from his biological father. And because he had put Hank in God’s hands, and allowed God to have His way with him, he didn’t have to carry the around the pain any longer.

    In the end, Greg would be the only one to see to it that Hank was cared for in his final days. While Greg couldn’t honor him as a father, he did see to it that Hank was honored for his service to his country and arranged a military funeral and burial. Greg never had to feel guilt or regret, loved his father far beyond what he received; in essence, he loved him with the love of Christ. In the end, God took ashes and brought beauty out of it.

    I am praying that for you.
    Whatever you do, don’t stop feeling the emotions, share them with your wife, read anything you can on the topic so that you know you aren’t alone and above all let God love you beyond your wildest imaginations!

    Standing with you and praying for you,

  5. August 16, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks for the prayers and empathy ya’ll. 🙂

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