I was so in love with the boy. He was mysterious. He was a surfer. He looked a little bit like Keanu Reeves. He was my temporary salvation. I couldn’t believe I had a long-term boyfriend. Even though I had one or two very brief relationships in high school, something deep inside me told me no guy would ever really want me, would ever really love me, and especially no one as cool as this guy.
It was written all over my dad’s face the moment he met the boy on a trip back home a few months after we started dating – he could see my obsession, and I’m sure he could see that this relationship wasn’t good for me. Partying with the boy and our little circle of friends every night became my way of life. Any goal that I had to finish college and move forward in life was put on the back-burner while I soaked up any morsel of love this boy was willing to throw my way, even if in the form of his jealousy.
After spending the summer working on South Padre Island, I returned to San Antonio and moved in with the boy and his parents for a few months. I had a job as a waitress. I missed the deadline to sign up for Fall classes, and I lied to my parents about this fact. They weren’t paying for it, so they didn’t need to know was my excuse…but I would have moments when the guilt would eat away at me.
Dad called me late one afternoon on the boy’s parent’s phone. This was before cell phones. I walked outside with the cordless phone. The boy was sitting beside me. Dad begged me through tears to come back home, live rent free and go to college there. I thought it was preposterous that he would even think to ask me to leave the boy. He begged me to talk to my mom. My stubborn heart wouldn’t listen to anyone. After a few more moments of begging, I hung up on dad and gave both my parents the silent treatment for several weeks.
The boy and I broke up a few months later. I stayed in San Antonio, but my Dad’s offer to go home loomed over me and I actually considered it a few times. I was so lost, so broken, so afraid that I would never find love, and there was my dad offering me the love of a father, the love of a family, and the promise that I could always go home.
I did go home a few years later…pregnant, alone, afraid. My Dad…well, he was going through treatment for cancer. I had a beautiful baby girl about six months later. Dad died a year after her birth.
Dad and I had a beautiful relationship before he died, but so many of my most painful moments are moments where I am sure I broke his heart. When I went through the horrible depression 2 ½ years ago, thoughts started to take root in my mind that all the heartache I had caused Dad contributed to his cancer (I’ve never shared that with anyone except Jesus, till now). So many regrets piled up in my head. So many amends I could have made to dad before he died that I never took the time to do. I wanted a ticket to Heaven so I could beg for Dad’s forgiveness and mercy.
I was right on the cliff-edge, ready to fall, when God grabbed and held me. God ’s my strength, he’s also my song, and now he’s my salvation. Hear the shouts, hear the triumph songs in the camp of the saved? “The hand of God has turned the tide! The hand of God is raised in victory! The hand of God has turned the tide!” Psalm 118:13-20 MSG
God’s grace reminds me that Jesus paid it all. I don’t have to live my life buried in regrets and shame for the horrible things I did or the words left unsaid. Dad wouldn’t want me to live that way either. Grace reminds me that the pain of this life will one day be, as St. Teresa of Avila wrote “no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.”
“Grief is a statement of faith that one day things will not be this way.” Tullian Tchividjian