A Mosaic of Broken Pieces – Part 1
The other day my dad celebrated 3 years of sobriety from an alcohol and drug addiction. If you knew my dad, this is no small thing. Because of this he is humble and understands grace on a level I may never know. Most of my life he struggled with the enslavement of addiction and could not overcome its power. He had a hard life growing up due to several divorces and step- dad after step-dad. Finally he dropped out of school at an early age and went on chasing after his lustful desires of this earth, which only led to a life of destructive patterns. After he met my mother I was born soon after and then 3 sisters following. Much of what I remember as a child was this repetitive cycle of drug abuse, physical abuse, and mental abuse. There were more nights than I care to remember when we were not sure whether he would come home or if we would ever see him again. For some reason though, God kept him alive and continued to watch over him. God loved him through the entire process. Many had given up on him; myself included. In fact, until a few years ago I resented my dad more than anyone. I had a deeply ingrained bitterness in my heart toward him. Funny how I served a God with endless love and yet had so much hatred in my heart.
Dad knew Jesus on a personal level, but the flesh was bound with such a strong chemical addiction that he battled it for decades. He had a heavenly Father that continued to forgive him and lavish him with love. Others in my family would try and help him but I was not interested in wasting my time. I was a minister and too busy to help him. Ironic right? I’d say so, but that’s the way I felt. After all he was never there for me when I needed him most so why would I help him? Little did I know, God was slowly teaching me about relentless love. A kind of love that loves even when someone does not deserve it. A kind of love that never holds back and does not depend on ones actions. That’s how God loved me, I just didn’t quite get it at the time. Theologically I did but practically I didn’t. I didn’t know this then, but I used knowledge as an excuse to not deal with my heart. I think many people often have an intellectual knowledge of a truth but practically have no idea what it means. Experience always deepens knowledge, which has been a true principle in my life. I love to learn and continued getting more and more education, possibly as a sort of medicine for not dealing with the hatred in my heart. Achievement was my way of ensuring I would not become like my dad, but I knew in my heart something was wrong.
You see, one of the reason’s I hated my dad was because I didn’t think he loved me. I assumed that his addiction was more important to him than me (in some ways maybe it was), and that there was no way he could love me. How could he live in such deep sin and say he loved me? But now I understand and have been growing in that understanding since. I realize now that I still mess up and make mistakes. Over and over again. Like the Apostle Paul I do things I don’t want to do and certain things I want to do I don’t and yet I still love my wife and son more than anything in the world (Romans 7:15).
After I married Ashley and we finished grad school we moved to Houston and began ministering to young married families. To our excitement we found out we were going to have a baby. I had no idea how much my life was about to change. God was about to wreck me (for the good) on so many levels. It seems like only yesterday that Beau was born. I will never forget this day. I thought I understood love, but that was barely true. I remember standing with my wife as she labored to deliver my son. Crazy amazing! I began to love her more deeply and differently after that moment. Then I saw my son for the first time, and as I held him, something weird happened. I began thinking of my dad and my heavenly father. I don’t know why and I don’t know exactly how to put this into words, but an amazing peace came over me in that moment. By looking at my crying son, I forgave my dad. Literally, in that moment I began to understand a father’s love for his son. It was a new reality I had never experienced and it changed my heart in every way. There was no longer bitterness toward my dad. I began to realize what it means to be willing to die for someone. Jesus did that for me and after that moment I saw some broken pieces in my own life come together. It’s a chain of Father’s love trickling down from generation to generation. Addictions and mistakes cannot change that. Our Heavenly Father demonstrates this toward us on a perfect level. My heart rejoices with gratitude for the Love of God.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, not things present not things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39