Dancing in the Light

I John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

Name:
Location: North Platte, Nebraska, United States

I am a christian wife, mother and grandmother. I am a licensed Social worker and a licensed Christian counselor. I am most proud of the relationships I have with God, my family and friends all over the world. I have been blessed beyond my dreams.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I Remember The Letter

I will never forget the day I opened my mailbox and found "the letter"---the letter signed by the men of the church, the letter telling me how much they each loved my dad, the letter detailing his sins: the breaking of his vows, the destruction of his and another's marriage, the shaming of the congregation, the abandoning of his family, and the breaking of my mother's heart. I remember that letter, that letter telling me that in an effort to bring him back, he had been disfellowshipped, and that he was not only no longer their minister but neither was he a member of that congregation. I read and reread that letter, crying and confused, wishing it to be untrue. I remember that letter!
I am not sure I can describe how that letter made me feel. Surely, there was hurt and anger. Surely, there were feelings of betrayal and bitterness. But mostly, there was sadness, a sadness bigger than myself, deeper than my thoughts and stronger than my strength. A sadness beyond all sadness. My mother and my sister came to live with us for awhile, and the sadness grew even greater. I saw in Mom's eyes the pain, the anger and the betrayal, and I was powerless to help. In my little sister, I saw mostly rage and disgust and I could offer no comfort or peace. That made me even sadder! I was confused about how I could love him so much and still be angry and hurt. Confused about how I could love my mother and my sister and not hate the one who'd wounded them so deeply.
The "love him or hate him battle" raged in my soul---it kept me from sleeping, it caused me to alternately cry and pray. But, hate doesn't come easily to me and so I sent my dad letters telling him that I loved him and that I was praying for him. I sent him pictures of his new grandson begging him to come and hold him. I left messages on his phone asking him to call me, telling him how much I missed him. The letters and pictures were returned-----the phone calls were not.
It would be February 22nd, almost a year later, before I would see my dad again. Earlier in the week, I'd called to tell him that my sister, his nineteen year old daughter, had died unexpectedly. He showed up at her funeral. He looked so much older and even frailer than I'd remembered. He was grief-stricken, haggard and blaming himself. I hugged him for a long time, his hug so tight, I thought he might break me. As we cried on each other, I realized that he would always be my dad and I would love him no matter what. We grieved together that day, no, not as an entire family, but as a daughter and her father, as a father and a sister. We grieved together not just for my sister, but for all the losses of the past year.
That day would birth a change in our lives. We would talk on the phone and write letters. And eventually the vast sadness would be replaced by the joy of his repentance. Our life could not ever be the way it was before, for neither of us were the same people. My sister would not be there to celebrate my dad's return to his faith. She would have been so happy. My dad, his sins ever before him, would struggle with forgiving himself. And there would be some who would choose to doubt his repentance and question his faith, rather than share in our joy. Twenty + years later, some still choose to remember his past. They choose to remember that letter.
Throughout the years, I have learned a lot from my dad. One of the greatest lessons is that sin is real and that sin causes pain. Sin hurts not only the sinner but those who love them. Sin challenges our faith and our willingness to forgive. But I also learned that God loves the penitent and that love heals. And that love endures, it never gives up, in the very face of sin, love still is. Love does not die, in spite of the past and regardless of what is said in letters.

Peace
Neva

23 Comments:

Anonymous John Dobbs said...

Neva, this is an astonishingly powerful testimony and I'm grateful that you have shared it. I've been married twenty years. Just a few years before I married, my father decided he did not want to be the father of his two sons and disappeared (not mysteriously...just exited stage left). He has never met my wife ... his grandchildren ... or great grandchildren. This caused much emotional pain, as you can imagine ... or have experienced. I do not know if he is even alive. Your post touched a part of me that I do not think about often, after all of these years.

5:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dear Neva,
You have been through so much. Your faith and courage and your ability to love are powerful and inspiring. Thank you for sharing this story. Praise God for happy endings!

Corinne

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing that with all of us. Having personally met both your father and your mother, my admiration for them has increased even more. I know personally how difficult divorce is especially when it involves outside people. Please tell them both hello from me. And when you see Steve ask him how things are in the "RW". :)

9:26 AM  
Anonymous lisa said...

Oh Neva, my heart breaks over the heartbreak you've suffered. What an amazing testimony that you are the person you are today, rather than a bitter, resentful soul. You share so much of yourself with others ... you CHOOSE to overcome your struggles. What a lesson for us all! I love you!

10:11 AM  
Anonymous carol said...

What a beautiful tribute to the love of God. How sweet is His loving mercy. What a blessing your posts are-such good and gentle reminders of what being a Christian really should be.
Bless you, Neva

Carol

10:58 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Neva, you really touched my soul, today. This reminds me of my efforts to reach out to my father for the last 40 or so years. I might actually get to see him at a funeral or something. The discussions are never meaningful, and my prayers continue that he will someday share something of himself with me. I'm not even sure of his beliefs in God.
Your story tells the age-old story of God's forgiveness. He desires that we should follow His example and forgive others, and when we do, OH what a blessing to all involved! Your father is very blessed to have a daughter who loved him so much, and you are very lucky to have a father with a contrite and broken heart, not hardened to Christ. He is probably stronger now, than he ever was before. Thank you, so much, for sharing this part of your life with us.
Keith

1:32 PM  
Blogger Bob Bliss said...

I'm preaching this Sunday evening on Hosea 3:1-5. Your story is a touching illustration of just how much God loves us and is willing to keep seeking us until we come back to Him. Your Dad was able to experience God's unfailing love through your unfailing love. May God always bless that spirit in you and your children. May your Dad continue to remember just how foolish he was so that he will remember God's kindness (Titus 3:3-6).

4:16 PM  
Blogger Monalea said...

Neva, how difficult this must have been for you to write and share. Thank you! My heart holds yours.

The forgiveness at the Cross is a wonder to behold. I'm so glad your father stands in its shadow.

Love you,

Monalea

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Neva,
I know how much it must have hurt your mom and your entire family. You must all be very strong to have remained faithful to God. Surely He is blessing you all.

Jean

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautifully written testimony of God and His forgiveness. You paint a powerful picture of penitence. Well done, Neva


Carlos

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neva,
Very few congregations follow this biblical example. Disfellowshipment is always for the purpose of reuniting the soul with God. What a blessing for your family to be a part of such a group.
I can only guess how painful this was for all of you, but in the end, your father did repent, he did return and he did come home. Praise God for His plan---it always works! God is good all the time.

Interested Bystander

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Redeemed Once More said...

I have been where your father was. Oppressed by my own sin and shame, determined to punish myself, very aware that others would applaud this self induced torture. It took me several years of good christian counsel and the love of my own children to break my stubborn spirit, forgive myself, and accept the renewing forgiveness at the foot of the cross.
I do not know your dad, and yet I know him well. I know that right this moment he is grateful to have the love of a daughter like you.

Redeemed once more

11:07 PM  
Blogger Helen said...

Love and forgiveness has such a power in it. I admire that in your situation you had the wisdom to see that.

My Dad and me have had very hard times in our relationship with sin on both sides, but a few years ago we were able to overcome that and this has been a blessing for our lifes ever since.

Thank you for sharing - this must have been hard to write down again and think about the sadness, grief and losses of those days.
(((hugs)))

4:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sin is so damaging. I know how thankful you must be that your dad retruned to his faith.

thankyou for sharing this

Yvonne

6:28 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Neva,
Thanks for sharing with us all.
We can all learn a lesson on loving and forgivness. God bless you sister. You are always in my thoughts and prayers.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Dearest Neva,

Once again God shows a parallel in our lives. I wept with you and for my dad who went through the same sin and forgiveness. Why are our preachers, leaders, youth ministers attacked in this one area so much? Where does that vulnerability come from, why that one in particular. It's so heartbreaking.

Truly, I do know how painful it is to share this information about our beloved dads, and I'm so thankful that each of our cases, full restoration of relationship with God, first and with father/daughter also was given to us by our Father!

You speak about this experience with such beauty and humbleness - with such love for both dad and Father, who could resist seeking their own reconciliation?

Bless you, dear Neva for demonstrating how powerful and healing is shared confession and shared news of reconciliation!!

Love ya' Sister-in-Him!!

In the Light of His love, grace and mercy

Kathy

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A powerful and touching post. Sin is never pretty but mercy always is,

Pat

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am amazed that you could so lovingly share this with us. I am so thankful for your willingness to help others grow through your experiences.
Thank you Neva

Rachel

7:02 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

Oh my, I didn't exspect to read this when I visit you today. We just don't realize what other people go through in life.

6:21 AM  
Blogger AncientWanderer said...

Thank you for sharing that.

5:06 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Household: said...

I have always been amazed at your ability to forgive and love. Your faith is tremendous and is shown through your actions and heart.
Love ya,
Kathy

9:27 PM  
Blogger Beba said...

I am glad you didn't judged him and in the last part of your post you've said you've learnt things from him. I admire that. God bless you

2:29 AM  
Blogger Liz Moore said...

Neva, Thank you for sharing your heart in such a powerful testimony. I praise God that you and your father were able to reconcile. That you were able to forgive him. It's sad that Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins, yet people choose not to forgive. Christ blood does not give us that choice or that right. Our rights consist of being loved and forgiven. As people we should do the same. Blessings to you and your father.

6:10 PM  

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