“All your insults and your curses make
me feel like I’m not a person
And I feel like I am nothing but
you made me, so do something
‘Cause I’m f***ed up because you are
Need attention, attention you couldn’t give
I sit here locked inside my head
Remembering everything you said
The silence get us nowhere!
Gets us nowhere way to fast”
-Staind, “For You”
This post is a little different than you’d typically get from me. You’ve probably figured that out by the lyrics I’ve posted above. Grief absolutely hit me like a bus yesterday. Like most people who get hit by a bus, I never saw it coming. I haven’t spoken to my father in almost 7 months. (More background info on that here.) Honestly, I try not to think about him. When I do, I try to figure out what went wrong, (which means I look at all the reasons why this is somehow my fault) and I get frustrated and sad. Frankly, I’m a happy person. I just am. I don’t like to dwell on things that upset me so usually when this comes to my brain, I shove it down. Or I use some form of escapism so I don’t have to deal. Yesterday though, was different. Sometimes, there’s just no stopping grief. It just comes. And you just have to stand there and take it.
I am angry, you know? Hurt. I needed him. So much of myself I threw away and gave away because I was desperate for attention from a man that I never knew. He never even gave me the option, you know? He walked out of my life, threw his Beatles records in a dumpster and took off for Arkansas to live a shitty existence, and never once looked back. 31 years later, I went looking for him. Through our conversations, sometimes he seemed more sad about tossing the Beatles records than tossing his own daughter. He openly admitted the fact that he had no idea who I was when he got my letter. Which means, he had forgotten he had a daughter, much less remembered what her name was. I really did have high hopes for this relationship. Honestly though, I’m the one who finally broke off the communication. I feel like I need to be honest about that, simply because we tend to believe we are not allowed to say, “enough” when a relationship turns sour. I don’t mean, “oh, I’m inconvenienced or irritated”. No, I mean, when someone is breaking you, you need to know that you have the freedom to walk away. I believe the gospel so of course, I believe in forgiveness. I believe things that are broken can be restored. Which is why I loved him hard. I was more than willing to shower him in grace and move on with our lives. Problem is, it wasn’t all up to me, you know? Some relationships just break. Some don’t just break and then disappear. Some are going to hang in the air and reek like a rotting corpse, and just mock your inability to do anything about it. It’s going to taunt you and break your heart over and over, every time the wind changes direction and you get a familiar whiff of what was, or what you wished had happened. As I’ve told my story to people, they always come back with pressure for me to go back and fix it. The thing is, I can’t fix this. I’m just not in a place where trying to make it work is healthy for myself or my family. Not to mention, I can’t fix my father. I can’t fix how he relates to me or the expectations that he has that I can’t possibly meet. I can’t make him stop hating me for failing to meet those expectations. I can’t make him understand that he’s a drowning man and by having a relationship with him, he’s taking me down with him. I tried. I ran hard. I fell hard. And now I’m just broken. It’s a big loss. So, I can grieve that and it’s okay.
For years I was told that grieving was wrong. That feelings of anger and sadness were sinful. That curling up into the fetal position and crying and screaming shows weakness, and that weakness isn’t honoring to God. See, people “need to see our example of strength despite the pain! That’s what honors God!”, they said. To which now, I would have to say, “bullshit!!!” and remind these people about Job, David, Paul, and uh…Jesus! Jesus, who had the power to resurrect people from the grave, still had the freedom to grieve! Even when he knew in a few moments, he was about to give breath and life back to the very person he was grieving over. How much more freedom is there for us to grieve who don’t have the ability to resurrect?!
I remember one time, sharing some things with my “mentor”. Some hard things. (Which, by the way…I don’t think putting people “in charge” of your spiritual well being is healthy or biblical…that’s just for free) She looked at me and said, “You know, you are not the only one going through hard things.” Which to me translated, “Shut up, I don’t want to hear it.” Needless to say, I never shared anything hard with her again. I avoided her at all costs. However, what she says is true. I’m not the only person who is going through hard things. It is my realization of that truth, that no longer makes me shut up. It makes me want to share the hard things that I am going through because I know that I am not alone. Someone else needs to know that they are not alone. Life is hard. We are human. Our response to pain is okay. Really, I think that we “hush” people’s emotions not because they are truly sinful (they can’t be sinful, they are God-given for a distinct purpose) but because it makes us uncomfortable. The “emotion hushers” care more about their own comfort than loving people in the midst of their pain. Don’t allow people to minimize your trials, your sufferings, or your pain!
I am not going to sit here and act like I have any idea what the Lord is doing in the midst of my grief over this loss with my father. I’m not going to spout some spiritual sounding, grandiose poetry about spiritual growth and how everyone I know is going to see my shining example and suddenly want to know about Jesus. I don’t know what the plan is here. I don’t have to know. What I do know though, that He is my perfect Heavenly Father who is NOTHING like my earthly father. I do know that he loves me deeply, irrevocably. Nothing that I do or don’t do is going to break that relationship. No matter how many times I fail to meet my heavenly Father’s expectations, he doesn’t hate me. In fact, he expects me to fail. It’s why he met his own expectations for me in Jesus. He crushed his own son so that a sinful, broken woman like me can curl up in his lap and know that I am deeply loved. He longs to be with me. He will never toss me aside or forget about me. Not only does he know my name, he knows how many hairs are on my head. He set his affection upon me before he even created time. He cares about my well being. He loves me.
And just know friend, He loves you like that too. Life sucks. Relationships are hard. Sometimes impossible. Cry. Scream. Punch pillows and scrub your counters clean. Listen to angry music. Let it all out. It’s okay. He’s right there with you. Not looking down on you, waiting for you to “shut up”. He understands exactly what you feel and why. He wants to hear about it, all of it. When you’ve cried all you can possibly cry and you are literally physically and mentally exhausted, you can lay your head on his lap and just breathe. Just rest. He’s got you.