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Father God – I find it hard to call you “father” in one sense; however, I do know that it is you and your son, Jesus Christ, who created all of the heavens, the earth and everything in it. You are the only creator of life. 

I have this little problem though. I do not have a good relationship with my earthly father. I was not raised by him. In fact, I thought my abuser was my father until I was like 4 or 5 years old. I first met him after we left my abuser and I was like 9 years old and he gave me a baby doll and my first though was “I’m too old for doll. But I also remembered that when I learned my abuser was not my real father, I kept wondering where he was and why he was not coming to take me away on weekends and to save me like my older sister’s father did every other weekend. Those weekends she did not have to endure his abuse yet I still had to.  

My father and I have had a tumultuous relationship. He did not become a true figure in my life until he moved to the same town I lived in. Yet you would never know we lived in the same town. I barely saw him. Some years, I would be invited over for Christmas and then him and his family would go off on skiing vacations and would never ask me to go with. I cannot tell you how many birthdays I was not invited to, how many family vacations I never went on, how many holidays I never participated in.  I was the “black sheep” of his family the child he would rather not have to deal with but I was his. 

I will not go into further detail of all of the problems that have ensued in our relationship. It has never been good except when I am obeying him explicitly. 

I view him as a Pharisee – you know, those men of the Bible who were so very “religious” and knew the Bible forwards and backwards and inside-out? Those men who were all about keeping the “law” and the commandments and not having a true relationship with you. That is how I view my father. A dictator of his own little kingdom where he must rule everything and everyone and woe to anyone who dares to not need what he says. His word is the “truth” and he knows best and so on and so forth.  He is a father who gives his love only if you are behaving and acting obediently. He also “pays” you for your obedience as well. If you show up for Christmas, you will be rewarded with a monetary gift. If you could not make it because you had plans with the other side of your family or were out of town/state visiting relatives, then you lose out on your gift. For your birthday, you must be in his good graces in order to receive your annual monetary gift. 

This year, since I am out of his good graces, not only did I not receive a Christmas card or even an email, I obviously did not receive my gift either. For my birthday, I received a card (which I was expecting to not receive anything) but it was a card for a child – say under the age of 7 – and was Snoopy on the front (I will state it said Love you, Daughter on the front) and then Snoopy with his arms wide open (to show me how much he loves me) on the inside. Nothing about Happy Birthday at all or even to acknowledge my birthday. 

Now, I realize I should be thankful he even sent me anything. I know I should be thankful that he even wants to be in my life. It is not about the money. I was speaking of the money only to illustrate that his love is conditional.  If you behave, I’ll pay you for your good behavior. Seriously?  How old are we?  I do not care about the gifts – I want a relationship (I think) but I don’t know if he understands what that means.   If I try to repair the relationship, what will the cost be? What emotional cost to me?  Will I no longer exist?

My dilemma is how do I forgive him for all the years of neglect?  How do I forgive him for not including me in his new family and now wanting me to be a part of their life as if the past did not happen?  How do I forget that he blames me for everything wrong with our relationship?  That he has created his own whitewashed version of what happened in the past?  That my mother is not evil. That she did the best she could and how – seriously – how does he know I would have been better off living with him?  Does he really think he would have let me visit her?  I doubt it. 

I see how he is with his family – hovering over them – having to control them all – imposing his ideas and beliefs on them – not letting them buy a car, a house or anything significant without his input – how they must “worship” him and make him be the center of attention all the time – where there is no privacy, they all know what is going on in each other’s household – what is told to dad (or their mother) is not kept secret – it is told to everyone else and shared.  This type of family is an enmeshed family. So enmeshed with each other that you cannot see where one begins and the other ends.   I was not raised that way nor can I change my behavior to conform to what he would require. He wants respect; however is respect not earned?  I will have to check the Bible to see what it says. 

I know in order for me to fully recover and get healed, I do need to forgive him. He is not my abuser but his deliberate neglect over the years has impacted my life and simply added fuel to the fire. 

Therefore, my prayer right now is to help guide me towards forgiving my father. Helping me to forgive him for the neglect and hurtful words he has said. Help me to forgive him for his ways and his behavior. May his behavior become pleasing to you. 

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