This sorting and packing has me finding a lot of different things. Squirreled away were some notes from my sister about why she and the rest of the family wouldn’t be attending our wedding, my journal from the months my Mom struggled with cancer, her funeral, all the feelings I was having around the time my family began their shunning of me. My choice was to challenge and question what I had been taught for years and make my own choices, not what I was told to do. I used to rehearse what I would say if I ran into my Dad when I went to a family funeral, or if I was visiting a relative on my Mother’s side. That hasn’t happened. One day while traveling to see my Dad’s sister in a nursing home, I remember telling Craig, I’m not going to worry about what I would say if I see him, if it happens, it does, and the Holy Spirit will help me to say what I need to say. That was freeing.
Lately, God has reminded me this truth: You are redeemed. I saw a post on Facebook, I am redeemed. My soul cried out yes! I’ve been hearing Big Daddy Weave’s, Redeemed, and my soul cries yes, thank you Lord!
And so, from out of that soulful feeling when I found the notes and my journal came this:
This is the conversation we don’t have. It would be the elephant in the room, if we were ever in the same room. That I don’t foresee happening, because you stubbornly hold what you feel you are doing is right. And I will not do what you want me to do.
It shouldn’t surprise you then that I got my share of stubbornness from both you and Mom. Maybe in some corner of you there is sense of connection you feel about that. I wouldn’t know. We don’t talk. We haven’t talked for a very long time. On the rare occasion you have called me, you announce “it’s your Dad”, like I wouldn’t recognize your voice. I do. The fact that you feel you have to do that just emphasizes the distance in our relationship. I think the last time I heard your voice is what like, 6 years ago, on the answering machine? I think the last time I actually saw you was at Grandmom’s funeral in 1995.
Why? Because you hold your denomination rules and regulations over a parental relationship.
Hear me now,
I am redeemed.
Religion says fix yourself, change yourself, do this, do that and then you can be accepted. You don’t live up to the standard; you can’t live up to the standard. You aren’t worthy. For years I bought into that lie.
Then I met Christ. The gospel, the good news is Jesus loves me right where I am, and loves me enough to draw me closer to Him. Jesus is the one who will change me; I don’t have to do it alone, I just had to ask Him.
Here me now,
I am redeemed.
Now, about that elephant.
Do you know how deeply you hurt me when you denied me as your daughter at Mom’s casket? Seemed like you did it so casually. It will be 29 years ago in July, but I still remember it. It was completely acceptable to you have people ignore and “shun” me during that time, including yourself. When I tried to talk you about it, your response was “I brought it on myself, I knew better”.
Abandoned was how I felt. That isn’t the first time I’ve felt that way by you, and it wouldn’t be the last.
I felt like I lost both my parents. But then, that was the goal. That is the purpose of the shunning thing. Cut off ties. Say things like I won’t turn you away if you show up, however I’m not inviting you to the house. Tell them you won’t visit them, and don’t. Get re-married, but don’t invite. Don’t call unless you think you “have to”, and leave the conversation on the note you’d like to talk more often, but it’s because of my actions you don’t. Tell Craig you would go to his wedding if he married someone other than me, but you couldn’t go to ours, and didn’t. I did think you might be more interested in your grandchildren. I was wrong.
The whole purpose of shunning is to make the person shunned miserable, guilty and lonely so that they run back to the witnesses. That is what you wanted, me to confess my sins to the witnesses and go back to being a witness, again. It didn’t seem to matter what changes I made in my life. They didn’t live up to the organization standards. Wouldn’t that mean you’ve made the watchtower organization an idol over God’s Word? It isn’t up to them to decide if I’m forgiven or not for my sins.
Understand, I’m not blaming you for any poor choices I’ve made in my life. I’m responsible for them, just like you are responsible for yours. There were years I was angry with you. Bitter, sad, then resigned to your treatment. Now those feelings have been replaced, with thankfulness.
Thing is, when you along with my siblings decided to cut me off from your life, along with most of your family, I didn’t run back.
I ran forward.
And I am thankful.
Thankful that I ran forward to the One who said I love you just the way you are, who would never forsake or abandon me. The One who loved me when I didn’t love myself. Who loved me enough not to leave me the way I was but to draw me to closer to Him.
The One who knew my name while embedded on the Cross. He unconditionally loved me and bore my sins before I even came to be.
I choose Jesus.
Because of Him, I am redeemed.
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Rom. 3:22-24
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 1 John 1:8
My prayers over the years have been that your hearts turn. Turn toward a heart of understanding the truth. Run forward, Dad. Leave the ghosts behind. Be free. He’s waiting for you at the foot of the Cross.
I’m not going back.
Here me now,
I am redeemed. Thank God, redeemed.