By Debbie Kennedy
My heart was settled or so I thought. He was coming…my Dad that is. I had spent time in prayer preparing for his visit. Knowing ahead of time helped the Lord to place His desire in my heart. To put things simply, lack of communication and effort left the relationship extremely distant, at best. Twenty something years ago I started the process of forgiveness. Ephesians 4:32 teaches – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.
In the 1970’s, divorce rates weren’t as high as they are today. I can still remember being in a class of thirty kids in grade school and being asked by a teacher if there was anyone who had divorce in their family. Only one hand went up and it was mine – it was that moment when I honestly felt rejected. Tragically, today if children were asked the same question that I was asked way back then, the hands in the air would be more than one. I’m certain there are many others whom have experienced the negative effects divorce can bring – emotional baggage. The formative years of a child can’t be redone…deep feelings of being abandoned or rejected don’t go away overnight! Jesus has done so much restoration in my heart and continues to free me, but sometimes in a weak moment…well read on.
Two days before my Dad’s arrival my sister and I were chatting and trying to decide on some fun activities to do with him to create some good memories. I noticed I was growing anxious and apprehensive about the length of the visit and the sheer awkwardness of running out of stuff to talk about. My sleep was disrupted the night before he arrived; that, along with some nausea. When I woke, I was tired, but prayed and felt led to ask some of my faithful friends to pray as well so that my emotions would not overshadow the visit.
It was obvious to me that I was in a battle of the mind at this point because my thoughts kept shifting from trusting that the Lord would see me through the visit, to then a flooding of memories of times when I wanted my Dad to be present in my life, but wasn’t. We can forgive, but we don’t forget and Satan knew this was a trigger for me. It seemed he was working overtime to try to devour the good that God had planned. Has anybody else been bombarded with unwelcome memories – like short video clips- they can play over and over again in your head like a bad song that needs to stop?! Don’t even think that Satan doesn’t exist or know where you are weak friends. Be aware and know how to stand against him. 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
I decided to head out on a power walk to try and clear my head. I poured out my heart to the Lord…confessing my momentary doubt in his abilities to walk me through the entire visit with my Dad. It wasn’t long before I strongly felt the presence of my heavenly father. The power of prayer friends! Oh yes, I made a decision right before I got on my way to that power walk though. Enough was enough! I remembered a verse in James 4:7- Submit yourselves therefore to God. RESIST the devil, and HE WILL FLEE from you. I visualized me slamming the door in Satan’s face and telling him aloud to get lost. I wasn’t going back to the past! Jesus paid much too high a price for me and all those who love and follow Him to live in bondage to unpleasant memories. Peace washed over me afresh. Today the good would begin with my hope and expectation that God would do HIS thing, whatever that would be!
The visit gave us all a chance to gather and get to know one another better. To hear my Dad tell me that he felt so much better and was able to let go of the guilt were sweet words to me. My prayer continues to be that the Lord will draw my Dad close and win his heart forever. To find out that my own father lost his Dad at age eleven gave me something new to digest. We learned information about his family that we didn’t know. It didn’t seem we ever ran out of things to talk about…those awkward moments I feared never happened. We can step afraid into faith!
One last encouragement I will leave you with. God beautifully orchestrated the timing of an EXTRA special visit from my daughter in law, Ali, whom lives a few hours away. She brought our grand babies over for a short visit without knowing my Dad was in town visiting. My son wasn’t able to accompany her, but Ali was so gracious when I asked if she would like to meet my Dad. To be honest, I wasn’t certain that it was best to have them cross paths. My own children never understood why their grandpa never expressed an interest in getting to know them. So not really knowing if they would ever see each other again or have a chance to establish any sort of relationship left me perplexed. Isaiah 55:8 – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. The leading of the Holy Spirit would override my hesitancy. What a vision to watch three-year-old, Taytum, run up and hug my father (her great-grandfather) like she had known him forever. It was beautiful – the grace of God continues to amaze me!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I thank you that you mend and restore hearts and relationships. We can do all things through you!!!
I simply love to record stories that move my heart! As a wife, mother, grandma, friend, nature lover, and a lover of Jesus I never find myself without something to share every now and then – record, and leave the rest to the Lord.