February 14, 2018

A Little Like Love

I grew up in a severely harsh home, with a father who spent much of his time lashing out verbally and physically, promoting a constant environment of anger and fear.

Our family did not go to church, but when I was eleven, my married sister invited me to go to church with her and her husband and one Sunday in December 1969, my dad unexpectedly said yes. The gospel message was given that special Sunday morning and I knew I wanted to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior and accept His gift of everlasting life.

I prayed and asked Jesus to come into my heart and save me. I knew I was His from that day forward. Sadly, I was not allowed to go back to church again until I finished high school and left for college.  
    
After college, I met and married my husband and we moved to Texas and far away from my parents. I rarely saw my parents and when I did see them my dad would always do something ugly and hurtful in a fit of anger to ruin any time together. It seemed he would never change from the angry man I’d always known him to be.
    
When my mother died at the age of 71, I looked across the funeral gathering at my father and thought to myself, Now that Mom is gone, it really wouldn’t bother me if I never saw him again the rest of my life.
    
I felt an instant and strong conviction in my heart that this was not the attitude God wanted me to hold. No, instead, God convicted me to have compassion. My dad was now alone in this world. He didn’t have many people in his life because his anger drove most people away.
    
My dad didn’t own a phone due to his anti-social nature. I began to write him letters, and when he did occasionally write me, it was always about his extreme loneliness. My letters were not very deep as he was someone you had to watch your words with because anything and everything set him off, so I kept them light. I would come to the end of a letter and struggle with how to sign off. Since the relationship was a strained one, it didn’t come naturally for me to sign, Love, Kathy. I would consider it, but my heart just wouldn’t go there. Instead, I would sign off with “Thinking of you.”
    
Until the day God convicted me again and this time, I knew He wanted me to sign Love, Kathy. I struggled with this. Isn’t it enough that I am writing him, Lord? I obeyed, I am writing him!
    
But I knew it wasn’t enough anymore, now God wanted me to take the next step.
    
I wrote the letter and when I was signing off, it was extremely difficult to write those four letters…
L-O-V-E
    
The struggle in my heart to do this made me feel like a horrible Christian. What kind of a Christian can’t sign L-O-V-E at the end of a letter to her father?
    
I made myself do it, because I knew God wanted me to. I did it out of obedience, not out of any feelings. Yes, I cared for my dad, but the four letter word did not easily roll off my heart. But I signed Love, Kathy and slowly but deliberately marched that letter out to the mailbox while admittedly feeling extremely miserable. So miserable that after a few minutes inside the house staring out the window, I quickly walked back to the mailbox and retrieved it and said, Lord, I can’t do this.
    
And then a few minutes later I again marched back to the mailbox and put it back inside, and while standing in the living room planning my next trip to the mailbox to retrieve it again, the mail carrier drove by and the letter was gone.
    
Love, Kathy was gone, on its way to a father who never demonstrated love to me.
    
Love, Kathy was gone, on its way to a man who had never expressed remorse for angry words and angry actions.
    
And then something else was gone….
    
With that single act of obedience on my part, came a new lightness and freedom in my heart from all the pain in the past. It didn’t matter anymore, and it didn’t hurt me anymore because complete healing was taking place. I was finally able to let the past go and let it go for good. A burden I had been carrying for a long time…was finally gone!
    
Letting it go changed me. I was able to live free of the past and no longer carried it’s baggage with me. I learned again that God blesses obedience in ways we cannot fathom.
    
I continued writing to my father, and signing Love, Kathy was no longer a battle for me. Instead, what started as a single step of obedience began to feel a little like love.