The Sins of My Father

I have a confession. I’ve struggled with forgiveness for so long. I told ya’ll about what my therapist said about how I gave my dad grace and not forgiveness. So, here I am feeling somewhat guilty because it has been 3 weeks since my dad called me. He called me on my birthday.

The first time in 34 years. Do you know how disappointed I used to be each and every year? But, God. Each year got easier. I realized that it just didn’t matter to him.

Until 2018. I guess it did matter. He called and left a message saying Happy Birthday. 

I haven’t returned his call. I made up excuses. I had some real stuff going on and real health issues that took priority. But, I haven’t called him back. Why?

I honestly don’t know. I think I am just struggling with my feelings for him. So, I’ve been trying to catch up on some blog posts. Forgive me for my delays. Muddling through emails, throwing myself back in work and then I read two posts about forgiveness.  I stopped.

One was by Maya Moore entitled Football & Forgiveness  and the other by Chris Weatherly entitled What I Wish Everyone Understood About Forgiveness. Two posts in less than 30 minutes about forgiveness? What was going on?

It was as though God was speaking to me. Talking to me. Telling me to push forward and understand where I’m at and decide where I want to be. To talk to him and to let him know. The truth.

I declined to do so. Me and God don’t always see eye to eye, but I know that in the end His word is forevermore, no matter how stubborn I am. So, I pushed his voice to the side and kept it moving. Until Chris Weatherly posted this:

via What I Wish Everyone Understood about Forgiveness

I couldn’t hide anymore. I couldn’t ignore. God was trying to tell me something.

Please read these posts about forgiveness. It will truly encourage you. Are you struggling like me?

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

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Motivational Monday Moment – 3/6/2017

I want to talk about grace today. Grace as a noun means favor or good will. I never really thought much about that word until recently. So, my Motivational Monday Moment is about grace and how it is not the same as forgiveness.

Let me tell you how I discovered that they are not the same…

I went home last month to Tennessee to see my father. It was uneventful, which was good. He’s recovering. He’s not doing what he’s supposed to do. His family is helping him out.

I flew in late Saturday night and drove almost two hours to my grandma’s house. I got lost. The outlets in the rental car didn’t work. I had 10% of cell phone battery left. It was trying. I got in and went to sleep.

Sunday morning I went to church with a friend of mine to hear him preach and later that evening I went to check on my dad. We sat and talked for a couple of hours. It was good. He asked me to take him to McDonald’s and get him something to eat.

So, off we went and he started to talk about how his family mixes things up. How they get information confused. His mom (who is deceased) and/or his siblings. It was random, but he mentioned how the first time he brought his girlfriend Arlene to town from Chicago, people had assumed she was white.

I listened to him talk. I said “I remember Arlene.” He replied “You never met Arlene.” I said, “Yep, I did. It was one year that we happened to be in town and my grandma made us come over to visit your mother. Your family. Funny thing is that she didn’t even tell us you were in town. We found out by visiting. I wanted to walk down the street to the local park with some of my friends. I asked you could I go. You told me to ask Arlene. Why? She wasn’t my mother. She was the first woman that I met and you thought that your girlfriend should give me permission? She wasn’t entitled. You were the parent. I felt disrespected. You didn’t provide support for us. Neither did Arlene. Non-financial people shouldn’t have opinions. Especially not girlfriends.”

He just listened. He changed the subject. He doesn’t remember that I met his first girlfriend outside of my mother. Only that he brought her to Tennessee. I, on the other hand remember everything. I have a long memory.

My memory won’t let me forget the pain inflicted by my father. I’ve tried. Other things happened which I will tell you about later. I didn’t understand. I hadn’t felt bad in a LONG time. What was happening to me? I shouldn’t be feeling the pain of longing for a father who wasn’t there.

I came home the following Tuesday and met with my therapist that week. I told her what happened. She asked me “Why do you go and visit him?” I told her that God told me to forgive him. She inquired whether or not God told me to build a bridge with him? I told her that he only told me to forgive him. She told me “You haven’t forgiven him.” I told her “Yes”. She said “No, you’ve given him grace. You’ve not forgiven him. You have too much residual pain left.” She went on to explain that the pain is both normal and understandable considering the years of abandonment, but she needed me to think about what forgiveness looks like.

I sighed.

For the last four years of my life, I thought I gave forgiveness. I gave grace. They are not the same. The weird thing is that I never knew anyone who gave grace. I thought God was the only one to give grace.

I was wrong. We can give grace. I allowed him to occupy a space in my world after almost 30 years of no relationship by thinking I was doing as God instructed…forgiving. But, now I see I was only giving grace.

I was being graceful by allowing him to be a part of my life. I was thinking that I was forgiving him by letting him spend time with me and dealing with the parts of my life that were painful. The parts that were caused by him and others. But, I wasn’t forgiving him. I haven’t forgiven him.

I’m struggling with this uncovered feeling. I’m trying to process what I need to forgive him. It’s hard. It’s a process and ultimately, I need to both obey God and forgive my father. God forgives. God gives grace.

I am not God.

So, my Motivational Monday Moment is spent somewhere in reflection, thought and understanding of grace and forgiveness. I ask the question, “Have you forgiven or have you given grace?” Let’s focus on both this week.

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

a letter to the mother of my children

An incredible post for forgiveness of a parent who abandons their children…

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There are so many things I want to say to you, I’m really not sure where to start.  Maybe I should start with I’m sorry, but I’m not.  It was never my intention to take your place, however, you lef…

Source: a letter to the mother of my children

On the 6th Day of Christmas

What I received this year…

A forgiving spirit – Let me tell you how many times I’ve held on to the wrongs that people have done to me. I will cut people from my life with a quickness but I never forget the hurt. It takes years. I still feel pain if it is was someone who I was truly close to. But, I realized that there is a time for everything and I have to accept that some people will play major roles during minor times and others will play minor roles during major times and that is okay. It’s seasonal. I need to forgive those that I feel should have stepped up and had my back or just been there for me.

But, I didn’t. I would hold on to that pain. I received a forgiving spirit. I needed to forgive people who had wronged me but more importantly I needed to forgive myself for thinking that I could have done more for them to still be in my life. I learned that it is okay to just let go and be satisfied that it is for the best. A forgiving spirit is a beautiful thing.

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My Father’s Day Gift: Forgiveness

If you’ve been reading my blog you already know that I never had a relationship with my dad until recently. My parents separated when I was 9 years old and it was hard for me to figure out a way to cope with a man who chose to forget about me instead of love me.

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Me in the 3rd grade.

It was many years and many failed relationships that I realized that I needed my dad. I needed him because he was the missing link in my life. I was broken and playing at being whole, but deep down inside my daddy was what I wanted and needed. I had to forgive.

Forgiveness is a process for me. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. I am stubborn. I get that from my mama. But, I needed to truly forgive the man who abandoned me.

I can honestly say after three years of trying to forgive, I have. It happened when I went home last month for Mother’s Day to Tennessee. I went to visit my dad.

My son wanted to meet his grandfather. I had been nervously wondering about this meeting because munch is my everything. I didn’t want to allow my dad the opportunity to meet the little boy who was God’s greatest gift to me only to abandon him like he did me. I was afraid. I let that fear lead me. When my son asked, “Mommy, can I please call Mr. Frank grandpa?” I replied, “No, munch. Not yet. Let’s meet him first.” He responded by asking “Why? Isn’t he my grandfather?”

You see that? My fear was allowing me to control what my son wanted to have…a relationship with his grandfather. I let the conversation drop and went to visit my dad the Monday after Mother’s Day. I sat there nervously wondering how my son would react. My dad was creepy looking. I love him, but he hadn’t aged well and he actually looked like a burnt out Dick Gregory. But, I held fast to the belief that this was what munch wanted.

We got out of the car and I held his hand tightly. I walked him over to introduce him to my dad and he let go of my hand and ran to him and wrapped his arms around his neck and said, “Grandpa! It’s so nice to meet you. I’m Brennan!” Just like that. My son’s acceptance of the man he didn’t know but already loved allowed me to truly forgive my father.

Love. Acceptance. Forgiveness.

I love him for the person he was, but more importantly for who he wasn’t. Because I think my life turned out the way it was supposed too.

I accept the fact that my dad is an alcoholic and his monkey will never leave his back. He’s not hitting women anymore, but he still hits the bottle. Alcoholism is a disease and I accept who he is.

I forgive the man who abandoned me when I was a child. Who walked out of my life and never looked back. The man who created other children with other women and abandoned them as well. I forgive the man who stands before me because I see him not as superman but simply a man. My dad. Broken and all. I love this man because he is me and I am him.

So, this Father’s Day is actually pretty awesome because I’m openly loving the man who had publicly abandoned me. Telling the world that I forgive this man and love him. I’ve sent him a Father’s Day card for the first time in my life.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy!

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My dad and munch sitting outside his house. – 5/2015

 

My Commencement to My 18 Year Old Self

It’s funny that at this time right now when people are graduating that I should be re-evaluating or evaluating my life as well. You know, wishing I had known things that I know now. Thankful for the things that I didn’t know then that probably would have scared the heck out of me. So, it got me to thinking about what I would say to myself at 18 at my high school commencement.

Why? Because no one remembers the speech the valedictorian gave. High school (much like college) was filled with papers, my senior thesis, community activism and parties and I really can’t remember what was commenced. But, if I could for just one moment go back and give my younger self a message it would be this…

  • You are bigger than your problem. Sometimes things will happen to you that you are unprepared for. Mountains will seem unmovable and your problems will seem insurmountable, but you should not distress love. You will be okay. Your student loans will be more than your paycheck and you can’t figure out why your boss is a raging lunatic and you want to walk out the door, but don’t fret love. You will get through this.

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  • Love will hurt. You won’t end up with your childhood love, but that is a fairy tale. Life is different. You will fall in love, get married, live in NYC, have a baby, separate and divorce and you won’t even begin to scratch the surface on the issues you both had. Drink lots of wine and understand that this pathetic period of self-pity can only last for two weeks. You have bills to pay, a job to get to and a child to raise. He needs you. Yes, you will lose some friends, some respect for some people and money because everyone knows that divorce is costly, but you will get through it. Love hurts. You will need to remember what your mom said, “Ain’t no shame in starting over.” You can start over. You will start over. You will know your worth.

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  • You will become a mom. I know it is hard to believe that you will become a mother, but it is true. You will be 32 when you feel your beautiful son kick for the first time. He will be born the April after you turn 33. I know you never wanted children, but I promise you that he is awesome. He will bring more smiles than tears and more hugs than heartache. He is perfect. Perfect for you. He will restore your faith in men and you will have the opportunity to raise a beautiful man to become a wonderful husband to a woman someday. But, be careful sis. The war on our black boys takes center stage as your son is growing. He will be feared. He will be hated. He will be despised. He will be labeled. You have to stand up for him. You have to fight for him with all your might because you are the rib of man. You have to teach him how to love in spite of society’s attitudes. He will love you just for you being you.

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  • Forgiveness is free. You spend so much time carrying grudges and being mad at those that hurt you that it is literally like putting a band-aid on a wound that needs stitches. Look, you don’t have to ever forget those that hurt you. In fact, I encourage you not to. But, what you need to do is forgive yourself. Forgive yourself of the guilt that you carry because you hate what people have done to you. When you forgive those that have wronged you and when you forgive yourself of the guilt you carry you will realize that your burden seems lighter. You will know the true meaning of “thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” You will be comforted because of your faith and the Comforter hears your cries. He hasn’t forsaken you.

  • Take your time. There is no rush to decide what you want to be when you grow up. Allow yourself the opportunity to discover what makes you happy. Whether it is in law or human resources. You deserve to take your time trying to figure out what you want to do. I mean who really knows what they want to do at 18? You should try different things and just go with what you can make a living at. Remember like mom always says, “You have to be able to support yourself”. Trust me — you will.

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  • You are beautiful. You spend so much time hiding your true you that it is at the end of your marriage that you will truly shed your layers and become comfortable in your skin. This is a good thing. You are beautiful. Intimately created by the man up stairs and you know what? You should rock that short shift dress and show off those honey colored thighs. Your momma gave them to you. Don’t hide behind baggy jeans and big shirts. Love that awkward shaped nose and big arms. Your curves are gorgeous. They tell your story and yes you have a butt that others will try to emulate by taking injections. Keep your head up and rock the skinny jeans sis! You are beautiful.

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All in all, just remember where your help comes from. Don’t allow your pride to stop you from asking for help. Allow others to get close to you. Enjoy the ride baby girl because it will be bumpy!