Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: WASTE (10/11/18)
TITLE: He Picks Up the Pieces
By Janene Bever
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Probably the biggest mistake I can remember making that caused me, my sisters, my step-mom and my children a lot of grief, was the unbelievable decision I made to not attend my father’s funeral.
I can remember being so angry with him before he died. We were very close. My 29 year old mom married him when I was 12 and, to me, he seemed very old; somewhere between a ripe old 30 to 35 I thought then. He adored me and my mom and did everything in his power to demonstrate it. I never considered anyone else but him my “real” dad, even though he and my mom divorced when I was 17.
Dad remarried and had two daughters, Tracey and Christine about the time I was starting my own family at the age of 23. Both girls, by the grace of God, are still in my life today. But it wasn’t that way for over 20 years.
My husband and I and our two children, Paul and Gina, stayed very close to them until my dad’s death. My own divorce, their move to another state, and a lot of dysfunctional behavior on my part, caused a rift that only time would repair. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Dad had been very ill with emphysema for a long while and had become difficult to be around. He was demanding of all of us and would embarrass us along with servers at restaurants when we all went out. One night, in a fit of temper (mine, not his) I stomped off and vowed not to be around him again. Little did I know how final that decision would be.
When I got the phone call a few weeks later that he had passed away, I was in shock. I was also very much into myself and my own feelings. I remember getting angry with him and blaming him for our last unpleasant times together. When the date for the funeral was set, I made a fateful decision not to attend. What was I thinking?
My step-mom Sam, who I adored, and my two step-sisters moved to Oregon shortly after that and were understandably furious with me. I tried reaching out to them but they weren’t having any of it. I didn’t blame them. By then, I was beginning to realize how insensitive I had been and accepted their decision and knew I had to just let it go.
I spent some years in counseling and finally accepted Jesus’s invitation for a new life with Him and began a plan to clean up the wreckage of my past. A huge part of that wreckage was to make amends to my estranged family. Through a family contact on Facebook, I reconnected with my sister Chris who, thank God, was willing to talk to me. She put me in touch with Tracey and a few months later we had a family reunion with the three of us, my son, my daughter and my grandson. I cannot put into words the feelings of joy that were present that day for us all. We were truly filled with the restorative power of God’s love.
Not intending to diminish my responsibility, I want to share that I had learned to bury my sadness and fear in anger and have effectively, though not wisely, used that emotion my entire adult life. It has cost me, and others I love, a lot. I thank God that He is teaching me to identify my motivation in the way I express my feelings. I also thank Him that He is our great redeemer.
What a waste are all of those years of separation from my family that I suffered. I was to blame but they, and He, forgave me and gave me a new beginning. And God promises the impossible: “God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he'll have compassion on you; he'll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered.” Deuteronomy 30:3 Msg.
And Dad, I’m confident that you’re in heaven with Sam and the Lord and that you have forgiven me too.
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