Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Beautiful (11/07/05)
TITLE: The Beauty of the Lord
By lisa elg
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My dad filled the silence with complaints about the traffic and the poor directions, and I was grateful for his attempt to normalize the situation. I followed suit and prattled about the weather like a meteorologist who had finally found herself on the other side if the camera. This charade would have worked for both of us except for the fact that he felt compelled to pepper the conversation every 3 minutes with questions like, “Are you sure you want to do this?” I then would feel compelled to answer him with statements like, “Yes, Dad, I need to do this.”
The memory of pulling into the parking lot, the meeting place, still knocks my heart around my chest like a game of pinball. The terror that gripped me that day when I saw my uncle’s car caused my teeth to chatter. Wild scenarios chased each other in my mind. What if he steps out of the car and shoots me? What if he has someone hiding in the bushes lying in wait to harm me for him? It was my dad’s voice that pulled me out of my mind bend. “Are you sure that you want to do this? We can leave. Just say the word.” Unshed tears burned my throat as I looked into my dad’s eyes. I saw the wreckage of hopelessness that caused his eyes to water. I saw the hard glint of unforgiveness that shone in his gaze. “I want to do this Dad.” The statement fueled me, and in spite of my fear or maybe because of it, I got out of the car.
I don’t remember walking to his car or even what his car looked like. I know now as I knew then that Jesus was carrying me through one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do. I don’t remember what my uncle was wearing or even the first words spoken between us. I do remember that he stood with his hands behind his back and his head bowed. When he lifted his head and spoke to me his eyes mirrored the pain that I felt. “I’m so sorry. I know that God has forgiven me, but I don’t expect you to forgive me.”
I was so shocked by his words, so overwhelmed with relief, that I was unable to form words. I stammered as tears streaked down my face. I had, in the deepest part of me, courted the lie that maybe everything in my childhood memory was a lie concocted by my evil mind. His apology dispelled the lie. The ten-year-old wounded little girl in me found her voice. “Why did you do that to me?”
“I don’t know. I’ve asked myself that question over and over. I don’t want to make excuses for myself. My dad wasn’t around when I was growing up. No one was showing me how to be a man. I was curious. I don’t know why I did it. I just know that I am so sorry.” His gaze never left my face as he spoke.
I can’t for the life of me remember my reply. I only remember the statement that began to take root in my soul… it was not my fault. The heavy, dirty feeling of shame began to burn away in the radiance of understanding. It was not my fault. The ten-year-old little girl in me was soaring through the air, unburdened and fearless.
We talked more and even discussed the fact that my dad would not be getting out of the car. Guilt had started to cloud my heart with the thought that I was responsible for the rift in their relationship. My uncle was many years younger than my dad, but both were neglected by the same father. In my mind, I had broken a bond between brothers. With earth shattering clarity, my uncle spoke. “Don’t blame yourself for how he feels about me. Look at me.”
I lifted my tear-filled eyes to his. “It’s not your fault. Don’t let this haunt you anymore. Have a good life. Trust people. Pray for him. Don’t give up. The reason that we’re able to stand here and talk about these things is because of prayer.”
Once again I was struck mute, struggling in a sea of emotions. Bittersweet tears bathed my face. In his gaze I saw the beauty of the Lord, and when I could hold back no longer I wrapped my arms around him. He hugged me back and my heart filled to overflowing as I declared the beauty of the Lord. “I forgive you.”
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