Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bring Your Brokenness And I'll Bring Mine: A Reflection on Mercy, Reconciling with My Father, and If We're Honest by Francesca Battistelli

There are so many reasons why this song's lyrics speak to where I am right now.  Acknowledging that we are all broken, in need of God's healing love, and want people with whom we can be really transparent says so much.  Oftentimes, we are hurt by others, and we let that hurt get in the way of letting others love us, or at least I do.

I encourage you to listen to the beautiful song by Francesca Battistelli that inspired this blog post:

Around Father's Day, I tend to think about how important honesty is and how love really can heal the pain that causes separation.  The greatest example of mercy I've ever experienced within the context of a human relationship was reconciling with my father.  He gave me some of the deepest scars I have, and for years I was dead-set against letting him back into my heart.  I did pretty much everything I could to keep him out of my life.  My mom and sisters still had contact with him, and we were all together on holidays, but I refused to forgive and forget all the hurtful things he had said and done.  I'd already internalized the harsh inner critic and negative self-image.

I learned at a very young age that no matter what I did, it would never be enough.  It’s only been as an adult that I’ve come to realize that my father’s own feelings of inadequacy, his alcoholic and workaholic tendencies, and undiagnosed/untreated depression were the primary sources of the disapproval that he expressed.  When I was young, I just accepted it when he told me I was worthless or not measuring up.  I spent years convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was a bad person who would never be enough in his eyes or anyone else’s.   

For all of those reasons and then some, I couldn't ever see having any sort of real relationship with my father.  I hardened my heart and my mind against my dad in order to make it through some very difficult times in our family.  I had the heavy burden of seeing some serious red flags before others were ready or willing to see them.  I tried to say something about Dad's excessive drinking (later confirmed to be alcoholism), unpredictable behavior, and anger, but no one would listen at first.  My method of self-preservation was to distance myself from him emotionally and, whenever I could manage it, physically as well.  

In 2006, a true miracle occurred.  After many years of pushing my dad out of my life and at some points wanting absolutely nothing to do with him, I had a true reconciliation with the man who gave me the deepest scars I have.  

There’s no explanation other than God’s grace that led me to reach out to my dad and really let him into my life.  I could never have imagined the healing that would take place for both of us over such a short time.  I know I was given an amazing gift that God led me to reconnect with my father, really love him and let myself be loved by him during the last three years of his life. 

God took away the hardness in my heart so I could be there for and with my dad as the rare illness he had been diagnosed with stole his ability to work and volunteer, robbed him of his football player physique, and eventually led to him becoming very dependent on others.  I had the privilege of being one of the two people he relied on most when he struggled with excruciating physical, emotional, and spiritual pain.

My dad and I were able to share our brokenness and let love heal what hurt had divided.  Our interactions weren't perfect by any means, but we talked through things, spent quality time together, and managed to minister to each other in ways that helped us both heal from past wounds.  I knew a profound transformation had occurred the day I consoled my dad when he realized he hadn't been there for our family during some really challenging times when we needed and wanted him to be present.  

Having a significant amount of forgiveness and compassion towards someone responsible for incidents and circumstances that were really traumatizing is not something I could have brought about on my own, not even decades later.  My defense mechanisms are often distance and detachment. Only the Holy Spirit could have softened my heart enough for me to let my defenses down and be vulnerable with my father. 

This is only one of many things I NEVER thought would happen that God turned into something infinitely better than I could ever have imagined or thought to pray for.  Click here to watch a brief video on how God changed three of my NEVERS into BETTERS.       

Questions for meditation, journaling, or small group discussion:

Do you have any NEVERS in your own life that God turned into BETTERS?  If so, describe them.

Have any of these experiences changed your mind or heart towards someone and led to reconciliation?  Did that change your perception and acceptance of God's mercy or forgiveness?  If so, how? 

It can be far too easy for me to overlook, minimize, or fail to think of major transformations I thought would never happen that God has brought about in my own life.  I have a strong tendency to do this when I'm currently praying for about a specific issue, for a certain person, situation, or concern.  I'm not sure what would happen if I approached more of my current NEVERS as potential BETTERS God could bring about in the future, but I'd like to find out.  
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