There are defining moments in my life that resonate daily. My heart relaxes as I remember those moments…they are the ones that calm the restless places in my soul. They are the “yes” places of surrender to the One who know me best.
Recently I found myself returning to one of those places. It goes without saying that there are years of history leading up to this moment that contain a culmination of struggle, fear and pain…yet one that birthed the beauty within my heart as I decided to “let go” of the hatred that drove the revenge in my life.
My father had been the target of my revenge. He was the one who groomed me to become the “perfect” daughter of my dysfunctional family. My father brought it to my attention that I was getting fat. I took on the challenge of his perfection by perfecting my body even to the point of spiraling into an eating disorder for 25 years to prove I could “fix it.” It became my “job”… I had something to work on and consequently neglected the beauty that was already so present in the life of my 17-year-old heart.
My heart became hidden and hard toward myself and others. The perfection I was striving for locked me into self-hatred that leaked out, as I demanded the same perfection from them. It was a thankless job with no rewards…there was nothing to gain here.
Through these years of my struggle, my dad became an old man. He wondered about me and my faith…but his heart was hardened to Christ. I spoke to my dad about my eating disorder and how God had intervened in my addiction. My dad heard me. It was enough for my heart to begin softening toward him even though for years I had given up praying for my dad, believing he did not deserve to go to heaven…but God…had other plans for my dad and for me.
Christ did reach into the heart of my dad when he was 87 years old. He came by way of an orthopedic surgeon who led my dad to the Lord just prior to his hip replacement surgery. Who knew that my dad would respond to the invitation extended by his doctor…direct words that asked my dad, “Donovan, you are an old man. You could die today. Are you ready to meet God?” My dad responded, “NO.” Dr. Burdick took care of that immediately and asked my dad, “Do you want ask Jesus in your heart today so you know for sure you are going to heaven?” My dad responded, “Yes!”
Thus began the 2-year process to “let go” and to relax into the presence of my dad. He did not become the “perfect” dad…nor I the “perfect” daughter. But we had one another for the short time he had left. For me, it was time to “let go”, love my dad well and receive the adoration he always held for me.
It was a sweet time when he passed away. I crawled into bed next to him…a place I had experienced my first memory of abuse…to usher him into the kingdom of God. I sang his favorite song, “You Are My Sunshine.” He went peacefully to the Lord as we both relaxed with one another.
I want to leave you with this picture of my dad and me. The beauty of my heart lives within me today. There is goodness in “letting go.” Revenge has lost its grip on my life and my heart is open to the future. My hope is that you are open to how God is writing the end of your story…I could have never written this ending with my dad…but God…
Mary Jane Hamilton has grown to love her sense of style and her peaceful lake living. Mother of 2 and grandmother of 6, she has a wonderful capacity to love and is still active as The Tooth Fairy. She is extremely fond of her dachshunds, who rarely venture from her lap, and enjoys biking with her husband of 44 years. She is rekindling her writing skills and finding it life giving.
Mary Jane, I love seeing this photo of you and your father. I’ve heard the redemption story, but hadn’t seen the photo. Your willingness to allow God to soften and open your heart birthed much beauty in your father and in you. It was a risk you took that allowed for a story of restoration and caring.
Blessed to call you friend. Valerie
Thank you, my friend. I have much to be grateful for here including my dear Dr. Burdick. You gave traveled this road with me…smiling…
Oh, my, Mary Jane! You are a beautiful. Thank you for sharing so clearly so much. Tears are flowing for many reasons. I am grateful you are a woman with a heart so big and transparent. Your love for setting others free in the name of Jesus is lovely and rare. May your words bring change in me and everyone who reads your words of hope. And God bless Dr. Bill Burdick!!! 🙂
Yes…God bless Bill! He is a treasure and dearly loved by me. My heart is free and my dad is in heaven. I am truly blessed. May your heart be blessed today. Thank you Becky!
I can relate to all that you said. Your words paint a beautiful picture of rest Maryjane and the Glory of God is on your face. Stirs longings!
Thank you Deb…you have encouraged me along the way…we have journeyed together!
How many times I have heard your story and been blessed. The picture of redemption you you experienced during the last few years with your dad resonates deeply in my heart. So thankful for the grace of “letting go” with my mother in the years before she died. Thanks for helping me to reframe her passing and embrace my own picture of redemption.
Thank you, Cindy…I thought about you and your mom when I wrote this…yes you do have a new frame! Love you, my friend.
The above thought is from me….I was on JP’s iPad!
Thank you…and smiling!
For my two friends above…this is Mary Jane here. I am in Austria and using John’s iPad. SOS the comments are from me:)
This wonderful story is touching my heart deeply, Mary Jane!!! I am grateful, you shared it. Your new friend Sophie
Thank you, Sophie….you hold a special place in my heart. Love you, my friend.
“Revenge has lost it’s grip on my life and my heart is open to the future.” I have experienced the change in you . . . and it is beautiful. As I came to the end of your writing and the picture of you and your dad appeared -I immediately noticed your father’s shirt – sunshine yellow.
That’s beautiful Mary Jane. Every time I hear your story, I am touched. Touched by your conscious decision to forgive your dad and to love him. It parallels my story a bit with my mom. And it encourages me to decide, once again, to forgive her. For me it is not a one time event, but I have to chose again and again, as I encounter situations where I remember painful moments with her, and again, I have to chose to forgive, it hasn’t just been a one time thing. I am thankful you had those last few years with your dad…until you two meet again!