My sweet brother,
Love is truth and anything else is an illusion. And, my dear brother...your life, I'm afraid to say, is an illusion.
The truth is this: You could not have better parents. There were mistakes made for sure but nobody makes it out of childhood unscathed. It is what you choose to do with those wounds that makes you who you are. What are you teaching your children? That unless friends and family adhere to your strict rules and regulations, they are thrown to the curb? If someone makes a mistake or crosses some imaginary boundary, you can justify being cruel? That forgiveness is optional? When I look at their picture that I keep in my living room, I wonder what you must be telling them. I wonder what their knowledge of us will be. Will they learn to hate us too? What kind of lesson is that teaching them?
One of the many lessons I learned growing up is that you don't give up on people. Even when the most unthinkable of sins are committed, love can still win. I learned that loved ones have a greater capacity to hurt you than anyone, but that they are the ones who will never leave you. They are the people that God assigned to us, not for convenience or to do everything "correct" but to challenge us, to help us grow, to teach us what love is.
I did see you as a victim for a while. Stuck in a situation you can quite find your way out of. Having to choose between your family of origin and your current family. But then I realized that you have the power to do whatever you want. You can choose to be cruel or you can choose to be kind. You've chosen cruelty. You've chosen to forget all that is good and only see that bad.
You've taken a loving and caring family and life-long friends and discarded them like yesterday's garbage. People that don't just love you but LOVE you. Wholly and completely.
You've decided that your parents aren't worth the effort to keep. You used backhanded, deceitful means to fulfill some sort of agenda to prove a point. The only point you've proven is that you are lost. Lost and confused.
My mother is smart, beautiful, kind, loving, generous, sweet, joyful, precious, delightful, and amazing. She is the reason I know who God is. Because the love of God so easily shines through her spirit and touches every person around her. She is, to my children, the quintessential grandmother. The kind that taught them to bake cookies. The grandmother who took them for nature walks and sang songs to them. The type of woman who would selflessly spend her last dollar to buy a pair of sparkly shoes for her granddaughter. She is the grandmother that delighted to see them dressed for church and to hear them singing praise to God. She held their hands, rocked them to sleep, prayed for their tummy aches, read them books, baked their birthday cakes and played with them in the snow. If there ever was an ideal grandmother, she'd be it.
What is she to you? Why would you feel the need to protect your children from such a woman?
My dad has taught me more than any other person on this planet. He has been there for me through every step of my life. Even when he was a busy person and was absent during our childhood, he was teaching me things. He taught me that life is for living. We never just sat around and did nothing when he was around. Life was big and fun and a grand adventure. He is the one that taught me the joy of being a great host to friends and family. That a house full of loved ones is probably the best thing in the world. Even now, if there is some sort of strife in the family...he simply invites them all over for a meal. When all is good in the world, he knows that the best way to celebrate is to all get together and have a time of communion. He taught me forgiveness and joy. I can always count on him. Always. He is beloved by all who know him.
What is he to you?
My Mamaw and Papaw are almost impossible to write about. It is far to hallowed a subject to even try and put into words. Their commitment to love and to God. Their undying love for their children and grandchildren. To be loved so completely by those two people causes my own inner light to shine brighter than it would had I not been subjected to that kind of unconditional love. The thought that you could criticize them for anything or be so disrespectful as to shut your widowed grandmother out of your life completely baffles my mind.
What are they to you?
It was made clear that it is not just I, nor my parents and grandparents who've been exiled from your life, but all of us. Your cousins? Your friends? Your aunts and uncles? Your niece and nephew?
If your intentions were to break our hearts, congratulations. You won that battle. My heart breaks for the state of your heart. To think of my sweet little brother living with such bitterness is very unsettling.
There is something you must know, however. Being filled to the measure with the love of Christ leaves little room for your cruelty to empty my life of any happiness. You are hurting only yourself. By the time you whittle out every person from your life who doesn't play exactly by your rules or who gives improper gifts or who defends themselves from your criticisms or who fails to adhere to your guidelines of living or who simply is a flawed human...I'm afraid you're going to find yourself quite alone.
I have had some really mean people do and say some really mean things to me in my life. Family and friends included. Even in my darkest hour of heartbreak, when there were fundamentally valid reasons to do so would I have ever dreamed of cutting even one of them from my life.
I have repeatedly asked for forgiveness for my offenses toward you. The last time we spoke when I was defending my lifestyle (something I really don't think a sister should have to do) you told me that the reason you didn't talk to me much was because I was too dramatic and it "really wasn't worth it". I'm sorry you feel that way. I am a very deep-feeling person. A lot of people see that as a beautiful thing. It's very sad that you only see it as an inconvenience and not worth your trouble.
I'm not perfect. I struggle just like everybody else with love and forgiveness. My lifestyle IS unorthodox. It isn't all buttoned up in a tidy package. I've not followed the strict conventional thinking of the day. I don't have a 401K and my savings account is too tiny to talk about. I have too many dogs and have baby goats in my kitchen. My house is messy most of the time. I still continue to fight alcoholism and am winning. My car is dirty and I'm about 25 pounds overweight. I cry when I'm sad and I say things I shouldn't when I'm angry. I spend more time than I should on Facebook and sometimes I don't turn the dishwasher on before I go to bed. This morning, I found a melted chocolate chip in my overalls and fed it to the dog. In short...I'm human. I am truly sorry if all this means I'm not good enough to be in your life.
You're better than this.
You are not this person.
You are kind and loving in your heart. Not the kind of human being that would pridefully slam the door on your family. You aren't the kind of person that would walk away. You told me once that your heart broke when you dropped your kids off at school. That kind of person can't walk away from his family with a clear conscience.
My heart breaks that you've made this choice because I know it's not the real you.
My prayer is that you will, to quote The Lion King, "remember who you are". The fog that has settled over you adult life has blinded you from what is truth. It is still right there in front of you, you are just blinded by the gray mist of life. Just like the sun is always in the sky, the true spirit of yourself lies just above those gray clouds. I'm being dramatic again, aren't I? Figure I can't make things any worse than they are anyway.
I've seen families that can't heal from the death of a loved one. The gaping hole that is left when someone you love dies is probably one of the most brutal of life's realities. When someone you love leaves by choice...I'm not sure there can be anything more painful.
I have always loved you and will always love you. You can keep me from talking to you. You can tell your children that I am not somebody worth talking to. You can even hate me. But you can't stop me from loving you. It is my right to love. That is what I choose. I may not be welcome to knock on your door, but I will be knocking down heavens door with prayers for your heart. Prayers for love and for peace. Prayers that you will see the truth and that the truth will set you free.