Discipleship is a powerful concept. Amazing things happen when a man who has seen the power of God in his life shares that power with another man. The letter below is a result of that power. One man answered the call to disciple and another man answered the call to be discipled. The author of this letter is a man that understands the need for God's grace in his life as a husband and as a father and has been radically changed by it. Praise God for His love.
"There are some images from my childhood that I fear I'll never really be able to forget, unpleasant things typically. I don't know if my parents regret making those images for me. I haven't asked. They haven't apologized. I don't want to bring it up, all this time later.
I know that in my turn I've also given you very bad experiences you'll likely remember, perhaps always, and that I deeply regret. I want to apologize now.
Everything I did that night was wrong: drunken rage, berating and physically threatening Rebecca, intimidating you. Camille and Alan, you were crying, watching in something like disbelief or terror or heartbreak. Daniel, you were standing with clenched fists, wanting to defend Mom from this ogre of a man, unworthy in that moment of the name father or husband. These are exceptionally difficult images for me to recall now, something perhaps I'll never forget either, and made so much worse because I was the cause and author of all this ugliness and betrayal. I'd become my father. I was bending and scarring my children as I'd been bent and scarred. Pathetic, pitiful, weak.
I am so sorry. Will you please forgive me?
Alan, Daniel and Camille, I love you all with my whole heart. Being a father has shown me, taught me how unconditional love feels. Don't mistake me - I love your mother, too, desperately in fact, but it's different. One day you'll know. The first time your little child, so recently the master of the beginnings of speech, looks at you and says, "I love you Daddy," you'll know that your life is no longer your own. Your hopes of future happiness are no longer your own. You'll know vulnerability and protectiveness. Take this little creature away from me, and you've broken me forever. Take away that "I love you" and you've torn something irreplaceable and unsealing out of me.
Please forgive me. Please tell me you love me still.
I know, by the way we talk, sing, laugh, hug, that you love me very much, and for the most part have gotten past that night. At least, you're relieved that it seems to be a thing of the past, not quite unimaginable but getting there. But I need to hear you say it--Daddy, I forgive you--not only so I can feel healed, but also so that you can. When I remember those images I mentioned at the start of this letter, I'm eleven years old again, wondering why I'm being bullied into not believing what I know I saw and heard, being gruffly dismissed with "You just don't understand." And looking back, through my twenties, thirties, forties, even though I've lived through many of the same stresses as my parents, through similar experiences that make up living, I can still only barely see into that time. I still don't understand, although my guesses are likely more accurate. But I know in the meantime, I've nurtured and developed a skepticism about marriage, a certain hardness where tenderness is needed, and anger--not rage, that burns and dies quickly, but a smoldering anger that lasts and lasts.
I need you to know that I now I've been wrong and that I am very sorry. Once you know that, you can forgive. And once you forgive, you can--God's blessed gift--forget. And hopefully, you won't find yourself writing a letter like this to your children years from now.
One more thing needs mention. Treasure your mother. Love her. Obey her. A lesser woman, a harder woman, a prouder woman, would have let me tear this family apart. A lesser woman would have let me drink this family apart. She sent me away, but she never let me go. She loved me when she didn't want to, when I was making it very difficult to do so. She prayed. Between her and God, I've seen what happens when I do what I want, rather that what God wants. And I've been shown that good can come even from such ugliness.
She prayed. And that has made all the difference."