My very first memory is of me at the age of two, sliding out of bed and padding down the hall.  I rounded the corner into my living room and instead of seeing my parents, I saw my regular babysitter.  I asked her where my Mommy and Daddy were and she told me that they were at the hospital having a brother or sister for me to play with.

My next memory is of us leaving the hospital, with me “helping” carry my new baby sister to the car.

I have other fuzzy memories. Of cutting the flowers out of the seventies-printed toilet paper and giving them to my parents’ friends, of swinging on an aluminum swing set, of sitting on the tail gate of the truck and camper with my platinum-blond, corkscrew-curly-haired baby sister.

The next major event that I remember is at the age of three.  I sat on the front stoop of our house with that wee sister of mine.  We watched our Dad get into the car, close the door, and drive away. He was starting a new life; one three hours away that did not include us.

We saw him the occasional weekend and on major holidays.  As we got older we would spend a chunk of our school holidays with him and his new wife.  They had made changes to their lifestyle and had started attending a church.  They told us they were Christians now.

I have always believed in God, so attending church with them felt right.  The summer I was thirteen, my Stepmom explained who Jesus was, and is, and I knew that I needed to know Him personally.  This was a catalyst for healing, for forgiveness, for a new relationship with this man I called Dad.

A few years later something happened that sucked the air from my soul.  All that I thought my Dad was, he was not.  He had betrayed my trust, and those of others.  All of the healing that had occurred had somehow been stripped away in the matter of a few moments.  I felt like all I knew and believed about him had been a lie.

Trying to reconcile the vision of a Heavenly Father with my earthly one was an emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical struggle.  I backed away from my faith for awhile.  I still believed in God, and in Jesus, but I struggled with the idea of God as my Father when my relationship with the earthly one was so strained.

I finally stopped running and asked God to help me.  To heal me.  To make me new again.

It happened.

I met Matthew, we married, moved here, had babies.  I know love like I had never thought possible.

There was still that nagging issue with my Dad.  I wanted so much for him to see how he had hurt me, and others.  To recognize the hurt, the disappointment, the damage.  To be sorry.  I tried to communicate this, to no avail.  My last communication to him was a letter soaked with tears that was neither acknowledged nor responded to.

I gave up.

Three summers ago I made plans to go to Vancouver and get Lasik eye surgery. I needed somewhere to stay and was contemplating my options as I drove into the next city to run errands.  I can tell you the exact spot on the highway that I heard God speak to me.

Call your Dad.

I did. How could I not?

I realized that it is not my place to make people see the hurt that they have caused.  My responsibility is to forgive. To love. That is all I can do.  Forgiveness does not mean that the trust can necessarily be restored, but it does mean that we can start afresh. I myself have made many mistakes in my own life and can only hope that people can forgive me even if I do not know of the hurt I have caused.

My heart has been healed in places that I thought was not possible. The wounds have been cleaned, the ointment applied, the gaping hole sewn shut.  All that remain are the scars.

The scars have faded, but they are still there.  Imperfections in what was once an unblemished landscape of my soul. I like to massage the scars every once in awhile. They serve as a great reminder of how far I have come. And of how unbelievably good I have it now.

(Dad, I love you regardless of any flaws and hurts incurred.  I only pray you can say the same to me.)

*Jann Arden.  The lyrics are what inspired this post.

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Comments:

  1. karen December 18, 2008 12:20 am edit

    Wow, this was so well written and heartfelt, thank you so much for posting it. I have a strained relationship with my own father and hold grudges when I could probably show some forgiveness and love. I still believe in God & Jesus but have backed away from my faith like you had and I’d love to grow closer to Him in the coming year. Also, gorgeous photo there!

  2. ali December 18, 2008 6:32 am edit

    this is an amazing post, Angella. and one i’m sure that was hard for you to write. i have issues with my father too (of course i do, we are twins after all) and at some point i had the realization that i will never change him. and all i can do is accept him for who he is and forgive. it was so hard to do, but it has changed everything for me. hugs, love!

  3. rachel December 18, 2008 7:22 am edit

    Amen Angella. I know that this must have been really difficult to write, but I thank you for sharing this and I hope you got some sense of catharsis as a result.

    {hugs}

  4. Domestic Extraordinaire December 18, 2008 7:28 am edit

    I also have issues with my Dad and a few years ago I forgave him. It has helped our relationship out, although I do get these twinges of jealousy when I see how he interacts with my half sister and how he doesn’t act that way with me.

    HUGS!

    Domestic Extraordinaire’s last blog post..Do you know what time it is?

  5. Robin ~ Pensieve December 18, 2008 7:31 am edit

    What a lovely testimony to the power of God at work in a person’s heart. You’re right…this kind of forgiveness isn’t possible in your own strength. What maturity you’re demonstrating in your words and actions…it encourages ME greatly!

    Robin ~ Pensieve’s last blog post..Don’t make excuses, woman! Just say thank you!

  6. Redneck Mommy December 18, 2008 7:33 am edit

    A lovely post.

    I have many parental scars myself. Sigh. I can only hope and pray I don’t wound my children the way I was wounded.

    Redneck Mommy’s last blog post..The Journey?Part Five

  7. Karmyn December 18, 2008 7:37 am edit

    Beautiful, and full of wisdom. Thanks again for sharing a glimpse into your faith walk, and your life.

    Karmyn’s last blog post..The beginning of a tradition?

  8. metalia December 18, 2008 7:43 am edit

    This can’t have been easy for you to write, Angella. Hope it helped you in some way to get it all out there on the page. Big hugs to you! xoxo

    metalia’s last blog post..It’s Time for…ASK A JEW: Episode 2!

  9. Elizabeth December 18, 2008 7:47 am edit

    I know you were nervous about putting this out there, but I really appreciate it. It made me think. I admire your courage so much, both for writing this and for trusting enough to forgive your father. I have my own issues with my father and I struggle mightily with the trusting thing when it comes to forgiving him.
    Thank you for writing this.

    Elizabeth’s last blog post..Christmas At Our House

  10. Kami December 18, 2008 7:54 am edit

    I can relate to this heartfelt post, my dad too, betrayed our family and the hurt from it still runs deep through all of us. We have forgiven but the trust has taken years to develop again and I am not sure it will ever be to where it should be.

    It is no small miracle that my parents’ marriage survived. Actually there may have been some divine intervention there….

    I know this was probably very hard to post because I don’t think I would ever write about my family’s experience….it might just cause more hurt and there has been enough of that.

    Big hugs!

    Kami’s last blog post..Manual Settings: What NOT to do

  11. witchypoo December 18, 2008 7:58 am edit

    “and his strength is what makes me cry”
    Hooray for throwing out the cardboard masks.
    It’s very freeing, isn’t it?

    witchypoo’s last blog post..Look What Google Brought

  12. sizzle December 18, 2008 8:23 am edit

    Forgiveness is so freeing. I think a lot of people stop themselves from doing it (me included) because of pride or fear or whathaveyou. But forgiveness is not for the person that has wronged you, it’s for yourself.

    Now if only I could get to that place to have peace with my dad.

    I’m glad you’ve found it.

    sizzle’s last blog post..Weathering

  13. Dad Gone Mad December 18, 2008 8:24 am edit

    We don’t get to see bravery and honesty like this very often, Angella. Thanks for trusting us enough to share this. It’s beautifully written and as real as anything I’ve read in a long time.

    Dad Gone Mad’s last blog post..Going Back Inside

  14. gorillabuns December 18, 2008 8:27 am edit

    I was planning to write a post about how my dad doesn’t know i’m pregnant but after reading this, I’m not going to even try attempt it. your post is way more eloquent than I could try to accomplish and put in writing.

  15. Loralee December 18, 2008 9:04 am edit

    Beautiful. Just beautiful and heartbreaking all rolled into one.

    Despite years of trying I never managed to have a tenth of the relationship you have with God, so I quit trying. (Ok, there were other reasons thrown in) I cop to being envious of those who do.

    Loralee’s last blog post..To whom it may concern: If you are related to me, extremely conservative, sensitive to delicate topics, have dated me, given birth to me, are stalking me, prefer to pretend that genitalia is a vast right wing conspiracy, or get squeamish at the term ?Brazilian Wax? PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS POST!!!-The Management.

  16. She Likes Purple December 18, 2008 9:11 am edit

    Beautiful and raw and honest. Forgiveness is for us, so we can heal and find peace, not necessarily for the ones we’re forgiving. Our lives will be better when we forgive, not when we cling tightly to the resentment and anger. It’s beautiful that you learned that.

    She Likes Purple’s last blog post..Pursuit

  17. Kristabella December 18, 2008 9:15 am edit

    Wow, honey, this was such a great post. I can see why it was hard to post, but I’m glad you did!

    I wish I could be more like you. My dad hurt me in so many ways and I am not sure I can ever forgive him. He passed away about 5 years ago and I’ve gotten less angry over time, but it is still really hard to forgive him. I think a lot of it is because he’s not here so I can’t yell at him in person. Not that he would ever listen.

    Kristabella’s last blog post..Mish Mash of Randomness

  18. ELizabeth December 18, 2008 9:21 am edit

    Beautiful, Raw and Amazing. Thank you for sharing.

    ELizabeth’s last blog post..Not Yet Stressin?

  19. hillary December 18, 2008 9:28 am edit

    this post spoke to me in ways that I cannot adequately express so I will just say thank you

    hillary’s last blog post..Looking For A Victim Wherever He Can Psycho Man Psycho Man He’s The Killer

  20. The Over-Thinker December 18, 2008 11:19 am edit

    I know someone with one helluva strained relationship with their father. I’m going to share this with them. Great post, Angella.

    The Over-Thinker’s last blog post..Valium? Valium? Anybody?

  21. Mrs. Wilson December 18, 2008 11:36 am edit

    Angella,

    I’m so sorry that you were hurt so much. I can’t even imagine, but my heart hurt as I read this post and I had tears in my eyes by the end.

    I love how God sometimes chooses to talk to us so audibly. And how He shows us how to forgive as He forgives.

    I heard a song once, and part of the lyrics were, “Heal the wound, but leave the scar – a reminder of how merciful You are.” I love how lyrics of a song can inspire so much. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    Mrs. Wilson’s last blog post..Whilst getting ready for school …

  22. Mrs. Wilson December 18, 2008 11:46 am edit

    ps. that photo is phenomenal

    Mrs. Wilson’s last blog post..Whilst getting ready for school …

  23. Vicki December 18, 2008 11:58 am edit

    thanks, angella
    i needed to read this today

    Vicki’s last blog post..Snakes, and Spiders & Fears, Oh My

  24. Hannah December 18, 2008 12:11 pm edit

    What an amazingly heartfelt post. It must have been difficult to write, and share on your blog. But from the comments above, it appears you have touched & helped many other people. You are so right about forgiveness, it is not always easy, but it brings freedom like no other.
    ((Hugs))

    Hannah’s last blog post..Moving on up

  25. Jennifer, Playgroups are no place for children December 18, 2008 12:26 pm edit

    This was powerfully written, Angella. I think that finding forgiveness and accepting others is a key to happiness. I wish it was something I was able to do myself.

    Jennifer, Playgroups are no place for children’s last blog post..‘Tis the season to choke down eggnog

  26. amy December 18, 2008 1:33 pm edit

    Great post!

    amy’s last blog post..Merry Christmas, Ya Filthy Animal.

  27. Danica December 18, 2008 1:50 pm edit

    Yes. Good. Thanks for that. And by the way, did you take that photo? Gorgeous. Is in in Summerland? You truly live in paradise.

  28. angella December 18, 2008 1:52 pm edit

    I took it in Peachland on Monday morning. Same lake as Summerland, just up the highway :)

  29. anji December 18, 2008 4:10 pm edit

    Is that just a ways up, from LalaLand?

  30. orlund December 18, 2008 9:16 pm edit

    That’s a great post. I am glad your trying to see who God really is past your personal experience. A lot of people would just blame God for hurts other people have caused.

    This reminds me of “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”. We are not rescued out of our problems but rather given the straightened and guided through it to build us stronger.

    I’ll pray for your family. Glad you and your husband are trying to live a good example.

    orlund’s last blog post..Friday’s Photo: So Smart

  31. Michele December 18, 2008 9:42 pm edit

    What a beautiful photo! Thank you for the reminder that it is our job to forgive – just like we were forgiven! Have a great weekend!

  32. joyce December 19, 2008 7:43 am edit

    wow. you’re brave to write about this. there are things that i would love to also post about on my blog, but don’t because of dealing with the aftermath. i admire your honesty.

    joyce’s last blog post..FYI’s

  33. Heather December 19, 2008 2:06 pm edit

    This is a beautiful post, and so apropos for the Advent season when we look back at Jesus’ incarnation that brought forgiveness and look forward to Jesus’ return that will bring full healing and reconciliation.

    Heather’s last blog post..Tapestry: Desire of Nations, Come

  34. Robyn December 19, 2008 2:26 pm edit

    Thank you Angella

    Robyn’s last blog post..The “real one”

  35. Elaine December 19, 2008 5:16 pm edit

    Forgiveness truly is one of God’s greatest gifts to us.

    Elaine’s last blog post..All Warm & Fuzzy…

  36. moosh in indy. December 19, 2008 6:27 pm edit

    Whoo.
    I’m now staying with my in-laws who never went through bumps in their early years, now they are being assaulted and struggling with all these new wounds.
    I however, like you, have scars from my family, and I can appreciate them and where they’ve led my little family.
    Lovely post my darling, lovely.

    moosh in indy.’s last blog post..how do you like them shabby apples?

  37. Tanya Duerksen December 19, 2008 6:33 pm edit

    very well said Angella.

  38. Cousin Teresa December 22, 2008 10:34 pm edit

    Your words brought me close to tears. I often wonder why it seems that the first man we love can hurt us in so many ways. The wounds heal but the scars remain.

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