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.