My counselor asked me if I prayed for my father. Honestly I prayed for many years, but I gave up because the relationship between my father and myself has gotten worse, just as his alcohol, depression, and family crap has gotten worse. He has not seen his grandson, my son, Isaac, since he was 9 months old and he's now 3 1/2. I have not talked to my dad in, on my birthday, it'll be one year. I have been hurt so many times that I am afraid I would damage him more by exploding all of my pent up anger against him and his addiction. I need to be healed of my hurts before I can be at a place to love my dad unconditionally. So no, I haven't been praying for my dad. I gave up. I put God in a box. "The man who created the heavens and the earth and all of the things in this Earth isn't big enough to heal my father." So I came home and for the first time in at least one year I prayed for my dad before I slept. This is the dream I had:
I went to visit my father, alone. I asked him where he was living now and he said, "My father's house". But when he gave me the address, he was in the same location I grew up at when I was a kid, not at grandpa's. The outside was almost the same but the house was different. There were more rooms. I was confused but I never addressed it.
We had a surfacey conversation standing outside. We weren't looking at each other, we were facing away from the house looking into the woods where I used to play. My grandmother had carved out of the woods a place for me to play pretend house. I had an old queen sized bed covered in plastic where I used to jump and lay on and read during the long summer months. I also had a kitchen at the bottom of some trees that grew close together which she nailed some old wood in between to make me counter tops. She gave me old tupperware and pots and pans so that I could pretend play. Then she carved a tunnel through the blackberry vines that I could run through which started from the inside of the play house forest and went all the way through to the other side of the back yard. This was my refuge when I was a kid.
There was something different about dad. A kind of peace. I could see it in his eyes that he knew the hurt he caused me over the years but he wasn't trying to make up for it. He was just there to love on me. He was more interested to know about where I had been. I tested the waters and would open up to little things like visiting his dad and his brother, which were big no-no's growing up (I dare not tell him about my relationship with my own mom, his ex-wife). If I were to tell him about my relationship with his family today he would be very angry. But he engaged in the conversation with no condemnation or judgment towards me, as if he had been visiting with them as well.
"I would have thought you would have gotten rid of this place," I said to dad after a few moments of silence while still looking into my old play ground in the woods. As he inhaled a puff of his cigarette, he exhaled and said, "Ah....I still have some plans for it." Then he exhaled his smoke and started to walk away with a sligh smile on his face. Dad hides his smoking addiction from me, even after I found out he was a smoker, still to this day.
As I started to follow him, I looked down and against the house were boxes of things left next to the house, as if someone was moving in. I saw a box opened with pictures I had taken over my life time of my family. Pictures of which I had not given my father, but somehow he still had them. They were nicely framed and respectfully packed as if he just put the box there a moment ago and was bringing them into the house but was interrupted by my visit. It seemed as though he was just moving in. I wanted to take these pictures with me when I left but I didn't say anything to dad.
I continued to walk up the side of the house and there was the camper.
As a kid we had spent many hours and weekends clearing out the side of the house to make a parking spot for my grandmother's truck and camper. She was coming for a visit and we were all going to make a road trip to Alaska for a month. We pulled weeds, took out bushes, took down a tree, and had to burn the stump down to get the root of the tree trunk out. Many memories of sitting around the burning stump were made with my dad. We even roasted marshmallows a time or two. We would both come in the house smelling like campfire and loved that we had sort of a camping experience in our own backyard. I felt safe knowing dad was right outside my bedroom window at night as I slept, watching the burning stump, keeping the fire under control so it wouldn't burn the house down.
I walked along the path between the house and the camper and found dad doing yard work in the front yard. As a kid my dad was always angry to do any kind of yard work and I was not allowed to be outside with him while he mowed the lawn. He let me just be with him this time and watch him as he pushed the mower with his strong arms and trimmed the shrubbery along the front of the property. The old gravel driveway was now paved and where there used to be grass was now the squishy foam stuff you'd find on the floor of a McDonald's indoor play yard. I commented on how nice it would be to put this under Isaac's play set. I thought it was strange that my dad was not discouraging me from this idea but it was almost as if he just knew I wasn't going to be able to do it.
As we walked back towards the house, along the path we just took, through the outside garage door, into the door from the garage to the house, and into the house, the house was not the same. It was a completely different house that I had never seen before. There was an excess amount of furniture as if it were a college frat house and many people lived there, but there was only my dad and myself present. We walked into the living room where we had more conversations. He was in the kitchen fixing a snack for us. He always had a way of making something from nothing and it always tasted good to me because he made it. If I were to eat the same foods that he prepared today, I'd probably gag. But he made it with love and I loved my dad, therefore, I loved the food he cooked. I loved watching him cook.
He stepped out of the room for a minute and I was alone in the house. I looked around to gain more knowledge about who my dad is by the furniture and decorations in the house. Then I stared at the big white refrigerator. I walked towards the fridge and placed my hand on the handle. Should I open it? If I did and saw beer cans, I would be devastated. Once again it would be another seemingly nice meeting with my dad until his disease gets the best of him and blows up on me over something insignificant in life, causing more of a divide between the two of us, while making me feel like nothing. But it was different this time. I didn't have to open the door. I knew he was no longer drinking.
He walked back into the room and brought a few of his friends with him. These friends of his happened to be some of my older friends that are currently the same age as my own father. I've had two counselors in my life and they were there. Both walked in and sat down on a couch. Another friend of mine (who has a relationship with his adult daughters, even though it may be dysfunctional, they are still a close family, and I can only long to be as close to my father in that way) was running in and out of the room as if he was busy doing something, preparing for something.
Dad took me on a tour of the rest of the house. We walked into a room full of dressers, couches and miscellaneous furniture, all stacked nicely one in front of the other as if they were in store a warehouse waiting to be sold and moved. I asked what all of this was for and he said, "I'm moving grandpa in." This confused me because if he was living in his "fathers house"...why would he be moving his father in... with him... to his house? Then I saw a stair case. I asked dad if I could see the rest of the house. He said, "I wasn't expecting you. It's not quite ready yet and we've got a while to go, so it's messy up there, but you're welcome to go up there and take a look around."
At the top of the stairs I saw bags of presents, balloons, rocking horses, toys, baby gates. I realized my dad had prepared all of this for Isaac, who I had left behind because I couldn't trust myself around my dad and didn't want Isaac to witness a blow-out. I felt horrible that he was expecting to see Isaac and I had not brought him. As I walked back down the stairs I began to panic. I left my son behind, but with who? I couldn't remember who was taking care of Isaac. I started to freak out and my counselors were comforting me. My other friend handed me his phone after dialing a number. "Tell him what you need and He'll help you," he said in a hurried fashion. "What is this, a psychic line?" I said as I grabbed the phone and he ran off.
Him: "Hello?" "Can I help you?"
Me: "Can you tell me where my son is?"
Him: "I AM sorry, I can't tell you."
Me: "Can you at least give me a hint, I'm freaking out here. It's like my brain can't remember where I was before I got here."
There was a long silence.
Him: "She is afraid you will leave her again."
And then He hung up.
Immediately, I knew who He was talking about. My son was with my mom.
(After my grandmother (my father's mom) moved in with dad, soon after our Alaska trip, my mother was made to be my enemy in our house. My 9th grade year would be the last year I would spend with my mom for 7 years. We have healed our relationship over the years and she is an integral part of my life as well as my family's life.)
When I gave the phone back to my friend, I started to grab my purse and keys to go get my son and bring him back... that's when I woke up.
My heart pounding heavily and tears starting to well up in my eyes, I started to process this whole dream immediately after I awoke this afternoon from a nap. I was confused. Majorly confused. But my processing was quickly interrupted by a loud, "Heaven", in my head. *gasp!* *lightbulb!* I was in heaven visiting my dad some time in our future after he passes and I am left on earth without him...and without closure or healing. My dad WAS in his Father's house, his heavenly Father. My friends who love and care about me had been waiting for me right along side my dad, getting to know him to pass the time until I arrived. I hadn't arrived yet. I wasn't dead. I was visiting him for just a quick moment. My dad had been preparing a place for all the people he loved to arrive: my room was in the woods where I still find my refuge to this day, Isaac's room was upstairs with all of the presents my dad wished he would have given him over his lifetime, and the back room full of furniture for his own father. The box of photo's were pictures God gave him to comfort him in all the time he missed out on. I can imagine God sitting down with my dad in heaven going through each and every memory my dad has missed out on and re-living it with him, for him. God was filling in the gaps of my father's life that has been taken by alcohol, depression, and family hurts.
This was my first memory verse as a child when I attended Christian school for Kindergarten and 1st Grade:
Jesus Comforts His Disciples:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will com back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." John 14: 1-4
God then spoke to me and said, "I love you. And I know all of your hurts. I know the pain your father has caused you. I also know your father and know all of his hurts and I. Love. Him. Too. It is not your responsibility to fix your father. He is mine, not yours, and his life is mine, not yours."
I sat up in my bed with tears rolling down my cheeks. I was heavily weeping. For a moment I pondered, "Was this really from God?" Then my ears tuned into my son's radio where we keep the christian radio station on 24/7. "I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me was playing:
From the 2009 Dove Awards: Mercy Me - I Can Only Imagine and Finally Home
I may not be able to fix my father, but with God's help, He's healing me one day at a time from the lies that have been planted in me my entire life. I pray that someone will come into his life and tell him about this great God of mine. And I pray he can be healed from his own lies planted in him before it's too late and enjoy some of his time on earth. My dream gave me hope. My God gives me hope.