Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Two Fishermen and a Story About Forgiveness

My dad and Bruce

Pyramid Lake

My step-father is from France. He is French-Basque. He was raised by an aunt, and had an interesting but difficult life in France. He and many other Basques smuggled Jewish people over the Pyrenee mountains from France into Spain during WWII. He ended up for a short time in a Spanish prison. He has really bad feet because he had to wear two left shoes during that time because those shoes were all he had. Many Basques booked passages to America because the war had left the Basques with a poor economic situation.

He moved to Colorado in 1948 to be a sheepherder, and eventually moved to
Winnemucca Nevada to be a miner. He met my mother, who had taken her two children, and her ex-husband's children on a train all the way from New Jersey to Winnemucca to escape an abusive marriage. I last saw my real father when I was about one year old. For awhile, we lived in small mining towns up and down Northern Nevada until we moved to Reno Nevada when I was five years old.

Growing up with my step-father was difficult. He was an alcoholic and had a hard time accepting me as his daughter and my older brother as his son. He and my mother went on to have two more children, and it was obvious that all of my step-father's affections went toward my younger brother and sister.

My step-father was angry with me a lot and I was at the receiving end of yelling, spanking, and slaps much of the time. When I became a teen, he tried (when he was drunk) to make sexual advances. That was terrifying, but thankfully, I was able to fend him off. I decided to leave home after an all too familiar incidence of him yelling and threatening to hit me. I picked up a chair and threatened that if he tried to hit me one more time, I would throw the chair at him. It was the first time he backed off. I think he was surprised I responded in such a manner. I usually cowered. I also was frightened to be home alone with him. I was 16 years old when I left home and struck out on my own.

I had contact with him at family gatherings but there continued to be little affection. I became a Christian when I was 21 years old, and knew that I needed to forgive him.

I heard a story once that forgiveness is like striking a bell. The bell is struck and rings out, and continues to echo until the sound fades away. Speaking forgiveness in faith is like striking a bell. I may not have FELT like I forgave him, but I did so in faith. The feelings were like the echoes, the anger seeping away over time until I FELT no anger and FELT like forgiveness was truly given.

Over the years, I have not seen my step-father much, but he has changed. The past few years when he sees me, he sometimes cries. He tells me he loves me and always has. He has a lot of regret. I can tell him I love him and mean it.

He called a week ago and asked if Bruce and I wanted to go fishing with him. Yesterday, we stopped and bought some salami, cheese, and french bread and drove out to Pyramid Lake. Bruce and my dad fished and I walked, took pictures, and read a book. It was a completely peaceful, relaxing day. I found much joy in watching my dad and my husband fishing together, and thankful that God is a God of healing and restoration. I think my husband will be instrumental in a growing relationship with my step-dad and I hope that our faith and testimony of Christ will resonate with him.


At 9:55 PM, Blogger Islandsparrow said...

Dear Candy - what a moving post. I am so sorry that you experienced such a difficult relationship with your step-dad. I'm glad that you were able to take the step of forgiveness even though it must have been so hard. And now, you are seeing the fruit of that forgiveness in the healing of your relationship. The Lord is good.


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