I’m going to write a part of the rest of the story today. You know how Paul Harvey used to close his commentary — just before that seemingly eternal pause before he’d say (or seem to say it in the form of a question): good. day.; he’d say: And now you know… the rest of the story.
Nearly 6 years ago I wrote a letter to the father who raised me… the man who married my mother, adopted me (and my brother) and two years after that, he took me down a road that would, on many levels, totally change my life. I would eventually receive salvation in Jesus and I would marry and move far from that home and decades would pass. The letter I sent him was returned to me. It was not the first letter I wrote to him, nor the first to be returned. It was, though, the first letter I wrote to him in which I detailed the many painful events of sexualabuse and sincerely sought to offer him my forgiveness (even though, generally forgiveness is given to a repentant person) and prayer for his salvation & faith in Jesus. I posted the contents of that letter online [3/19 edit, the website: imtellingonyou . org is no longer active] when it became apparent to me that he would not read mail I sent him. Later I would send him a postcard with the address for the letter. Though others acquainted with him responded, he never responded. With the passage of time I found myself wondering how I would react if/when he did respond. I recall gasping one day, a year ago, when a business acquaintance of his emailed me — and through some exchanges, I would learn that there were other people seriously and negatively affected by the man I once called, Daddy. I wondered how I would react if he called. I wondered how I’d react were I to hear news of his death.
Now, I want to say that I recognize that whenever a person tells their story, they’re telling someone else’s story, too — and some stories are painful. Some are intended to inflict pain. This blog entry is the former and most certainly is not intended to be the latter. Through the years I’ve come to realize that God has used my life, my experiences and my candidness to relate to other women, to encourage other women and to offer hope — encouragement that there is hope and healing in Jesus, hope that others have passed this way, too, and hope that there are brighter tomorrows after tragedy, loss, rejection or failure. I have experienced all of these to some degree or another and I know there is hope and joy and life on the other side of mountains and valleys. There is hope in Jesus.
Over the years I’ve wondered how I would react to the news of the death of the father who raised me. You know… I always thought I’d be relieved. I always thought I’d have “closure” (whatever that is). But whatever I thought, I didn’t think I’d have the reaction I did. And, I’d never have believed I’d respond as I did — I responded by calling his wife ( this is not my own mother, to be clear, he and my mother were divorced 33 years ago) — to simply ask if he had been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
I had the wonderful privilege to join my husband on a business trip last week — a trip I now know was part of the masterful handiwork of the Lord. I needed that time. I marvel that my husband would have a week of work in the winter in a distant location and I would have the opportunity to spend the week walking and talking with one of my oldest, dearest and most loyal friends. I believe it was marvelous preparation for me as I would receive a couple of letters first thing the next morning after returning from that business trip. Many, many times in my life I’ve experienced an unusual or strange working of the Lord — God’s remarkable work or provision — just after or just before a trial. Never the same work… but always unmistakably the work of the Lord.
Such was the case this past week. The subject line of both email letters was the same… the name of the father who adopted me as a little girl — the man who, for twelve years, I called: Daddy. I was not prepared for what I would read. The first I read, was in the form of a sort of arresting statement. The second, a question. Both would convey he had died — kicked the bucket was the phrase one writer employed to tell me the news. Not surprising, really, for that man had experienced great loss, as a business professional, years ago. The passage of time hadn’t softened his opinion nor dimmed his view of the man. The other letter would contain the obituary — the incomplete obituary. In death, as in life, truth was covered over. I should not have been surprised, but I was.
In my letter to him six years ago, I wrote: You’re where you are today because I never told on you. The letter didn’t garner the reaction I hoped it would — and news of his death didn’t bring the consolation I thought it would. I’m still glad I wrote the letter. I’m sorry he never answered it. I’m glad my story has given so many women the courage to face their abuser. I’m sorry I’ll never know if the abuser repented or if he spends eternity in heaven or in hell. Child sexualabusers die. Memories of child sexualabuse does not die.
I never thought I’d react the way I have.. to the news of The Rest of The Story. You might think I’m wishing ill on him — But I assure you, I am not. God’s worked such a work in my heart that I sincerely hope that, in the end, he chose eternal life — that in the end he chose Jesus — though I doubt that was the end of what seemed to be such a pitiful man, I sincerely hope that salvation was the rest of the story for him.