Prayers for My Father

Father, give me the words.

Every Sunday for last couple of years I have driven past my father’s house on the way to church and prayed for him. Let this story be an honor to God and to my legal, earthly father. My prayer the last few months have narrowed to this “Father, we cannot change the past. I pray that Jack find the love he has never known in his life before he dies.”

My father is nearing 80. He stands roughly 5’4″, slightly taller than me and weighs 160 lbs from my best guess. He needs hearing aids but won’t wear them, I found out 2 days ago this is in part due to the fact that they sound like Cicadas buzzing in his ears. Knowing my father I believe a greater reason is control. He is the ultimate control freak, more so than my mother was. He will tell you what he wants you to hear – and only what he wants you to hear or what he thinks you want to hear. He has hidden himself from Truth and truth for so long I believe he honestly believes everything he says. I, however, do not believe a word he says. He is a master manipulator.

Last fall I was contacted by a cousin, he was in the hospital.  Two years ago he had a blood clot in his head and had been taken to the hospital then ended up in long term care. The story as he told it to me was that he was preparing to go to the funeral of his first wife when he was hit on the head and crumpled to the ground where his brother found him in a pool of his own blood nearly dead. He had not stricken anything when he fell. He doesn’t know where all the blood came from.

On Tuesday as I was sitting down to work I received a call from the city. They were standing on his porch serving him notice to clean up his home or they would be moving in to do it for him. My father is a hoarder of television show proportions. Fire and rescue have said it is too dangerous for them to come into the house if he cannot come out and meet them on the porch. So we may at some point in the near future be sending in the coroner to retrieve him. He threatened suicide to his sister Linda on Wednesday and Tuesday – but as far as I know he has not followed through on it.

After we left on Tuesday I spoke with another city worker, Dan who has been and is very kind to him offering to bring crews over and clean up for him if he is unable to do so himself. He’s offered to pick up anything that Jack is able to pile up on the top of the hill. We are going to have to move slowly – this has to be his idea. It’s his stuff and he has ostracized everyone who has ever tried to help him and all he is left with is his stuff, his things.

In the mornings this year I have been reading Jesus Calling, Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Jessica Young. The message this week have been exactly the messages I didn’t know I needed.

Monday Jun 2 – It is through knowing Me intimately that you become like Me. This requires spending time alone with Me. Let go, relax, be still, and know that I am God.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2

Tuesday June 3 – I want to be Central in your entire being. When your focus is firmly on Me, My Peace displaces fears and worries. […] There is no fear in My Love, which shines on you continually. Sit quietly in My Love-Light, while I bless you with radiant Peace. Turn your whole being to trusting and loving Me.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears in not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

When I arrived at the house on Tuesday and we (the city worker, Ruth and I) got to the porch and Jack came out she said to him “Look at how beautiful your daughter is. She’s come to help you. She left work and came here for you.” He started the conversation expressing how painful it was that I rejected him when I was young. The hurt I caused him when I yelled at him “we don’t want to see you ever again.” The hurt I caused him. I may have been 12 years old at the time. Can you rewrite a story that has been written? Feeling abandoned when he left us to go to college in Ottumwa where we later moved to with him. Again when he abandoned us to move to Kansas for additional training. But I digress. I am grown now and all of those experiences made me who I am today. A powerful woman of God prepared for this moment on this day with the army of God walking the path before me and doing what I can to bring love to this man’s remaining time on earth.

I spoke to my older sister Shawn for the first time in my life. I will be 50 in October.

Wednesday June 4 – Welcome challenging times as opportunities to trust Me. You have Me beside you and My Spirit within you, so no set of circumstances is too much for you to handle. […] Let your thoughts and spoken words be richly flavored with trust and thankfulness. Regardless of the day’s problems, I can keep you in perfect Peace as you stay close to Me.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. James 1:2

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

Yesterday I drove Eric to Missouri for a court date. When we got to the court room he found out it had been continued (again). We didn’t have to make the drive but at least I spent the day next to him, caring for my son while he slept. He went to his brother’s house again last night. He’s being very sensitive to my roommates needs as she hasn’t been feeling well. They will be here tonight for supper.

That evening I spoke with his sister Linda who provided some additional history. The last time he was in the hospital was due to a hole in his esophagus.

Thursday June 5 – Remember that you live in a fallen world; an abnormal world tainted by sin. […] Much frustration and failure result from your seeking perfection in this life. There is nothing perfect in this world except Me. That is why closeness to Me satisfies deep yearnings and fills you with joy.

You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

This morning I am meeting Dan at the house. Jack tried to arrange with his sister to be gone when we arrived. He remembered that we were meeting at 9 am; we are meeting at 10 am. He needs to be there. I am not going to put myself in the position Shawn was in last year by removing any of his possessions without his knowledge and being accused of stealing them. When we were talking she asked if I knew he was a hoarder. She then emphasized that he hoards food! Food that shouldn’t be eaten. Canned goods that are leaching through he will eat. He was so mad when she was here. She cleaned out the kitchen, painted and installed new flooring and he is pissed because she threw out his food and other things. You must understand a hoarder before you can encourage them to change – but they have to make the changes. You have to be willing to back off and allow them to make it their idea. Forcing a hoarder to give up their things will lead to aggression and push back.

He has a lot of possessions.  He pays his bills, yet he hasn’t worked in ages.  I know things that many family members don’t about him.  That knowledge came under the whip.  On the one hand I feel he owes me, that I am somehow entitled to his things.  Still – I am not interested in his stuff.  More than likely he will leave the mess for others to clean up – wasting all that he has acquired.  All that he values is things.  I don’t want his stuff.  All I have ever wanted was a father.  I came to this realization this winter when I heard a quote “people don’t want the Father, people want what the father can give them.”  I realized that was true of me also.  We live in a broken world.  People should be more important than things – relationships over money – healing over justice.  I will do what I can.

On Tuesday when I returned to the house, I took him a 6 pack of tomato plants and suggested that we get his “garden” back in order. He wasn’t sure what to make of me. When I left they were sitting on the porch, it rained last night so I hope they got wet. Today, I’m going to request that we empty out the pots of dirt on the porch and plant them so he can come out and water them as they grow.

God. Walk ahead of us today and speak to his heart. Let these words honor you and this child of yours who has endured so much in his own childhood and brought that to others during his life. Let the violence and abuse end here with me. Although he has pushed everyone in his life out, through you help him to know your unending, unimaginable love before he is finished in this life.

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