Monday, January 25, 2010

Turn, Or Burn ... the Issue of Repentance

My father has been fighting for visitation rights over the past couple months, and the judge recently ruled in his favor. Mandated by the court system, Taylor and I are now forced to visit one who has hurt us so deeply.

Our Dad has always been dangerous. Emotionally, and at times physically. Not only is the idea of spending so much time with him inconvienient and upsetting, but it's also frightening. He's a scary scary scary person! Thankfully, there is a court appointed supervisor to oversee the visits ... if not for that, I don't know what I would do.

Our most recent visit with him (our second since he won visitation priviledges), was held at a local Denny's. Taylor and I didn't order breakfast ... we weren't hungry. We just sat there. He started off the conversation by asking us flippant questions about school and even about our braces. He wanted to avoid, at all costs, having to discuss what he's done to the family. Somehow, I was able to ask him a question ... I asked, "Dad ... what does a relationship with us look like, from your perspective?" I wanted to know if he truly wanted reconciliation. "Well Lauren, right now, it looks like forced visits through the court." He said it very coldly. I turned away from him and just looked out the window. This doesn't seem like a man who wants to love his children.
I went on to tell him that we were scared of being with him, and Tay and I didn't want to see him. I begged him to stop forcing us. He replied, "Lauren, I really don't care ... This decision isn't up to you." Stone cold.
The week before, when we had our last visitation with him, I gave him my Bible. I outlined it with several verses, hoping that the Word would convict him. Hebrews 4:19 says: "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." However at Denny's that morning, I was disappointed.
"You know Lauren. I was reading your bible and came across a verse on how we shouldn't judge other people ...."
He went on and on then about how I was judging him and how no one can know if he's repentant for all the things he's done to his family (theft, adultery, and countless other hurts) except for God. He preached for a while, and I didn't say anything. But he went on and on about how he can have a vertical relationship with God, one that is repentant, that on a horizontal level people can't see. This was shocking to me, and completely unbiblical! Romans 12:18 says, "as far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men." My Dad has never even asked for my forgiveness.

Turn, or burn. The title of this post is very ... honest. Unless we turn from our sins, and repent of them, man can never enter into the kingdom of heaven. One of the most famous verses in the Bible, Galations 5:22 says: The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. The fruit of the Spirit! Just as an apple grows from a tree, these characteristics will necessarily grow from a heart watered and fed with the Spirit of God. If there is no fruit, there is no Spirit.

I used to live in a house on a 7 acre piece of property. In the backyard, there was a huge, beautiful pond. Skipping rocks was always one of my favorite past-times with Taylor! We had contests for who could find the smoothest rocks, who could skip more times, and who's went the farthest. No matter how we threw the stones - there was ALWAYS a ripple. It is impossible to throw a stone into a pond without some after-effect! The same principle applies to Christianity. We honor God because we want to, and that vertical relationship has a ripple effect horizontally.

I love my Dad so much ... and I want him to turn, not burn. I pray for his salvation always ... And it is true that I can never truly know the condition of his heart. However, a believer is known by their actions. Repentance isn't just the empty words "I'm sorry", but actions that ask, "what can I do to restore us?"

Until we see that from our Dad, we cease to have one. True love doesn't put others through the things he has put us through. We ask you all for your prayers, that God will wake him up and help him to repent, that one day we might have a Dad again. That is our hope! However, for now ... we rely on God to be that Father. He is the best parent ... a perfect one.

~Lauren Lee


carlotta said...

Ugh, Lauren...I don't know how you can deal with this situation!
My dad and I have our fights...I disagree with him/think he is treating me unfairly at times, but I still love him. And I know he loves me.
But this...I don't even know what to say...
So I'll say that I'm praying for you and your family - especially your dad.


Melanie said...

This sounds so much like what my dad does, Lauren! Wow. Again, I am so thankful that you are at the point of reaching out to girls in situations like this. That's one of my dreams.

Sarah Mae said...

I'm new to this blog world. We're on the same boat. It's comforting to know someone who can relate to the pain a dad may inflict on his daughters. I'll keep you and your dad in prayers. Will you show me kindness to do the same thing too?

Sarah Mae

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