For my “day job” I work as a server in a high end restaurant in a really nice part of town. This means we get lots of couples and families who come in for various celebrations including birthdays and anniversaries. On one particular night, I was serving a couple only in town for a few days, as they were visiting for their anniversary. We didn’t talk much during the meal, but when I was boxing up the rest of their food, the husband said to me, “Tell me about yourself.” Now, I tend to dread when people ask such an open ended question because my first response is always, “How much time do we have?” I gave them the quickest rundown of my life I could think of, mostly including the highlights. I then mentioned my estrangement from my family and how I barely see them now, but that my relationship with them is beginning to improve after many years. I left the table after this, and when I came back, God moved in a way I wasn’t ready for.
The husband stated that he had a similar relationship with his father, estranged but on the mend. We both got a little teary eyed and then he said to me, “We were supposed to be here tonight, to hear your story. It’s a beautiful story of redemption and hope, and it gives me hope for my family.” We talked a little more, but that statement really hit home for me. Now, this young couple lives in Washington, so I doubt I’ll ever see them again, but they’ve given me hope and let me tell you why.
When I was 17 years old, my parents and I got into a huge fight. I don’t really remember the basis of it now, but it was explosive, lots of screaming and yelling. At one point, my mom called the cops on me even though I did nothing wrong. My dad eventually came to get me from her house, and I spent a week isolated and alone at his house. At this point, my relationship with my parents has been basically broken beyond any hope of repair (according to human standards anyway). I was so hurt by the events that transpired that I asked them to sign emancipation papers. They not only did that, but they also dropped me off at school and told me I was no longer welcome back home, and to find somewhere to go. I borrowed a friend’s phone, called my now mother-in-law, and the rest is history. Now this is a very condensed version of what happened, because there was a lot more, but those details are irrelevant to the main story line.
It’s been almost four years since that transpired, and God has been moving tremendously in my life ever since. When I was really young, my dad was my best friend. He was single for a good chunk of my childhood after my parents got divorced, and since my dad lived closer to my school and friends, I always wanted to be with him. The brokenness in our relationship has really affected us both deeply, especially since he refused to be at my wedding (and so did my mom). I’ve prayed for years and years that their hearts would be softened and changed, because I struggle with blocking people out of my life, especially those extremely close to me. One thing I struggle with is that I want to be everything to everybody, I always want to be included and know what’s going on, so cutting my family off completely is something that I have a very hard time with.
In Philippians 1:6 it states, “I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (TPT) This verse is so profound to me because it reminds me that my story is not finished yet. God is still working, He is still moving, and it will all work out according to His plan. I have had to place my complete faith and trust in God that He would prevail through the circumstances, and let me tell you that those prayers have begun to be answered. I am a walking testimony of God’s faith through trial, persecution, and heartbreak.
The 2020 holiday season was one of reconciliation, redemption, and hope. I spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas with my dad and stepmom. Yes, there was some tension and a little bit of awkwardness at first, but after not seeing each other for almost four years, it was to be expected. I don’t talk to my dad daily or anything like that, but I now have my younger brothers and my older sister back in my life, and they invite me to family functions on the occasion. Even a year ago, this was unfathomable to me, so I am grateful, to say the least. Even though I doubt things will ever be how they used to between us, healing and reconciliation have begun to work within my family.
I would probably see my mom more if she hadn’t moved away, but they are fulfilling their homestead dreams. My mom, stepdad, and youngest brother moved to Tennessee last year to start their little farm. Even though I don’t talk to them all the time either, I get updates here and there about the progress on their animals and how my youngest brother is doing in school. I wish they were still close by but I know this is a dream they had for a while, so I’m happy to see them pursuing it.
My relationship with my parents is nowhere near what it used to be and probably never will be that way again, but that’s okay. We have to learn to accept growth and change, especially in this constantly changing world. Even though my story is full of heartbreak, it is now a redemption story, because “The Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain, and he is always ready to restore the repentant one.” (Psalms 34:18 TPT). I have spent years praying for redemption, healing, and forgiveness, and I am confident in saying that those prayers have been answered and are continuing to be answered even today. If you are walking in a season of tough times, of difficulty, of pain, just know that God is with you. He is close by your heart and has not abandoned you. He is not only walking with you, but carrying you through the pain that you are experiencing right now. God is faithful to those who are faithful to Him.