“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6
Last Sunday marked another year; another year I did not buy a Father’s Day card for my father. In fact, I don’t recall ever buying a card for either my biological father, or my stepfather. It is possible that in grade school I may have made a card, but I have no clear memory of doing so. Now, I have purchased cards for my husband, celebrating the wonderful, nurturing father he has been to our children. I have also bought cards for my grandfather, my father-in-law and my uncle, who acted as positive male role models in my life. Yet, I will never make a warm sappy post highlighting that I am still a “Daddy’s girl” on Instagram. I will never share a picture of my father walking me down the aisle on my wedding day, instead it was my uncle who fulfilled that role. The harsh reality is that I don’t have a father to celebrate or honor!
For you to understand my situation, I will share a brief history of my family. My biological father signed away his parental rights when I was a baby. I did meet him once and subsequently decided the relationship was not worth an investment. I was raised by my stepfather, an alcoholic who sexually abused me. He was later arrested and convicted of sexual assault. Its easy to understand why I don’t buy a Father’s Day card for either of them.
I could close my blog right now, and I am sure comments of sympathy and empathy would ensue. I might even get questions about the details, or about forgiveness. But not spending $5.99 for a Hallmark sentiment on Father’s Day is just a prologue to the main story. It doesn’t tell the story of a woman in her late forties who cherished and treasured every picture her friends shared on Father’s Day with their own amazing dads. It doesn’t tell about the woman who loves to plan a full day celebrating her husband on Father’s Day. It doesn’t show the restoration that has taken place.
Restoration is defined as the action of returning something to a former condition. I love old furniture, but to antique purists, like my father-in-law, I don’t love to restore furniture. Instead, I love to paint it a fun, new color and replace the old hardware. It fits my décor style and takes less time. And a good coat of paint can cover up a lot of damage. But true restoration takes time and effort. Often, you have strip away the old finish, sand the piece down, and carefully stain it to its former glory. My husband and I toured The Breakers, an old Vanderbilt mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. The curators of this mansion did an amazing job trying to find as many original pieces of the time period to furnish the house. The restoration of these pieces was carefully done and is priceless, demonstrating the amazing craftsmanship of the designer!
Imagine with me that when I was born, I was a beautiful table, designed and carefully carved by God himself. My wood grain was stained carefully to let the beauty of the piece shine through. Yet, within a few short years of my life, this table was damaged beyond recognition by misuse and abuse. In some areas, the beautiful wood grain was marred with scratches that cut deeply into the surface. It no longer functioned as a table and most people would not have even bothered trying to sell it at their yard sale. Its battered surface and legs looked worthless and unsalvageable.
Thirty-one years ago, my life, or my table, was on its way to the dump, all but crushed by the weight of worries and burdens I was never meant to carry. I had just shared with the police and social workers the details of my years of sexual abuse. My stepfather was arrested, immediately, and I was experiencing post-traumatic shock. Yet, within a few months, I experienced the love of Jesus, an unconditional love that forever changed my life. Being filled with the Holy Ghost, I felt peace amidst the chaos, pain and brokenness.
This infilling of God’s spirit was the beginning of the restoration process. This involved therapy with counselors, but a lot of the process involved God using His word, His spirit, and His body of believers to restore me. Some of the process involved stripping me of the wounds of abuse, carefully sanding my distorted thoughts and views to bring out the beautiful grain. It included refinishing me with a new stain, restoring in me the trust and beauty found in a marriage, family and friends. It entailed ripping out damaged places such as coping mechanisms that led to food addiction and replacing them with new, sturdier hardware, including the satisfaction and fulfillment found only in God. This restoration didn’t happen overnight, and I can’t say that all the restoration is complete, yet. I can’t say that there aren’t some scars underneath the table that still need to be uncovered and healed. However, I can say that God has done an incredible work in my life, restoring me to what He had intended from the beginning. I am not the same table that I was when I was born. God, through his restoration process, has created a new masterpiece that reflects His amazing craftsmanship!
This is just a glimpse into a major project I am working on: writing a book about the restoration of a life. In this blog I have used the metaphor of restoring a piece of furniture for simplicity’s sake. In my book, I am relating my life to the restoration of a home, a deeper and more involved project than a simple table. My goal in the book is to walk you through my restoration process, unfolding how God has ministered to me in different areas of my life. This journey of restoration is my story, but I believe, whether it is childhood trauma, as in my case, or a failed marriage, an unexpected death or any situation that causes us to be broken, we all have areas where we need God’s intervention to help bring us back to a place of restoration. In Jeremiah 30:17, the Lord prophesies, “For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds.” According to the Matthew Henry commentary, most of Jeremiah’s prophecies fall in the area of reproof and threats. Yet, this chapter is one of two chapters that stand out as a source comfort and of hope. Despite the effects of sin, whether self-induced, or inflicted by others, God had a plan to restore His people to health and heal their wounds. This promise was not only for Israel, but for us, today, as well!
Father’s Day will arrive every year for the rest of my life, and there will always remain some “nevers” in my life, including never buying my father a Father’s Day card. But this is not a source of pain or contention for me, but rather a reminder of God’s grace and love. Like the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in “Sherry” will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” God has begun a good work in me, and I can’t wait to finish my book so that you can read about it!