Stubborn

Has God ever told you something over and over again, and you knew it was Him, and you knew what He was saying, yet you tried not to hear it because of what it might mean for you?

I have no relationship with my father because I've chosen to remove him from my life. Seeing as it's March, this makes 2 years since I decided that I didn't want anything more to do with him.

When someone destroys your family with addictions and abuse, you want nothing more than to escape. I finally found the courage to end things when my father went to jail, and I haven't spoken to him since. He has since been released, and has tried numerous times to contact me, but I don't allow for it. If he calls, I hang up on him. I tear up his letters, and throw away his cards. I refuse to call him, and avoid seeing him at all costs. I know I'm being bitter and holding a grudge, but I don't trust him. I don't trust him not to hurt me again.

I received my patriarchal blessing shortly after I was baptized last year, and it says that I need to forgive my father; that I must pray for him because it will bring about a miraculous change. I've also received promptings from the Holy Ghost to contact him and tell him about the gospel. But I haven't done it. I know what I'm doing is wrong, it's against God's will, and I will probably suffer the consequences for my insubordination, but I refuse to be hurt anymore for my father's sake.

He has taken advantage of that too many times as it stands, and I can't bring myself to be rational. Years of living with him has programmed me to perceive him as a threat. My body temperature shoots up, my heart races, my palms sweat, and the only thing I can think is "Get away." It's the fight-or-flight response, and there's nothing I can do to change it that doesn't involve exposing myself to him... it's a Catch 22. I would have to break the reaction before I could make myself sit there with him, but in order to expose myself to him, I have to break the reaction.

And for what? I've made it 2 years without him, and they've been the best I've ever had. As far as I'm concerned, he's not my problem anymore. And having me step out of his life hasn't been enough of a wake-up call to him. I know he still does all of the same crap he did before. What else am I supposed to do? He only cares about himself, and nothing I can do will ever change that.

I tell you all of that to tell you this: I just finished my first talk. I'm to give it this Sunday, and it's on Charity, "the pure love of Christ." Here's a section of it:

"So what did the Savior, our loving Brother, teach the disciples when he was on the earth? What would he have us learn from Him? In John 13:35, we read “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” We are all missionaries in this life. Part of that mission is following the example of Christ as we prepare for our responsibilities in the next life. We have a duty to love our fellow man, no matter what his faults; just as the Savior loves each of us. The difference, for me, between charity and service is motivation; charity is what I do out of love, and service is out of obligation. If you’ve ever done an early-morning service project, you know what I’m talking about. I’ve been striving to transition from service to charity, and I urge all my fellow Saints to do the same."

Do you see my dilemma? I'm a hypocrite! I fully intend to give this talk on Sunday, to stand up there and preach to our branch about charity, yet I do not follow my own advice. And what's worse, I realize that I'm being a hypocrite, and yet I refuse to change! Heavenly Father and I have been at odds about this for almost a year, if not longer, and here I sit, just as stubborn as ever.

I have faith in my Church, my God, and my Savior, so long as they don't require the biggest sacrifice they could possibly ask of me... I knew that before I converted. And I knew it would be asked of me. I'm not surprised that I'm in this situation; only frustrated that I had to be right.

I don't like what I'm seeing in myself right now, but I know I won't change. My mom says it's the stubbornness I inherited from my father that makes it so...

The issue isn't what to do. I know what I should do... and I take the responsibility for what I'm doing right now. To me, that's how it should be. God should not be blamed for my mistakes, when chances are, he's trying to lead me to something that I could not reach without my father.

Unfortunately for me, I'm just that stubborn.

Comments

  1. Forgive me if I seem audacious, but let me put it simply:

    You're not a hypocrite.

    You have made what, from data available to me, is a good decision.

    Your father has decided to remove himself from your life through his own problems and treatment of you.

    You are a child - your job is not to parent him, but to receive parental advice from him. He has obviously shown himself incapable of holding this position - he has screwed up his own life, and will only be a negative influence on yours. Scripture contains stories of children leaving horrible parents - Abraham chief among them. This is not without precedent.

    He must change himself. His actions obviously removed him from your family, and he still continues to do the same things. At this rate, he is the one who needs to repent. If you had a strong belief that bringing him back into your life would significantly improve his, you would be justified. He has not shown this, nor do you have any reason to believe him at this time.

    Your job is to look out for you and yours first. Those outside of the family, now including your father, are of secondary importance. If allowing them back in is damaging, don't do it. See 1 Timothy 5:8

    You do need to forgive your father. I've forgiven mine. But there is a big difference between forgiveness and inviting him back with open arms to do you great harm. The first is liberating to you - the second could amount to suicide. My father understands that darkening my doorstep will result in a potentially violent response on my part - I am prepared to go to any lengths necessary to protect my family. I will not allow one such as him to come back into my life, nor to have anything to do with my family. He is gone for good. This does not have to be the case for the relationship between you and your father.

    Pray for your father. Perhaps write him to remind him of what he is missing. But set clear lines - if he wants contact, he needs to clean up in a verifiable fashion. He needs to prove he wants it, and sending letters and making phone calls proves absolutely nothing other than a desire to get back in touch, not a desire to become a positive, mature and paternal influence on you. Only accept the latter.

    He screwed up, plain and simple. You are not a welcome mat to be walked on - you need a father, not an addict. At this point, he is the second - when he shows himself to be the first, then is the time to welcome him back. Until then, you are only doing what a smart person would do, and you should feel absolutely no guilt for it.

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