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From Pain to Purpose:

(About a 5 min read - Warning: I needed a Kleenex)


I remember, when I was a kid… a handful of situations that robbed me of my purpose… like a clever pickpocket that taps you on the side to distract you from his slight of hand… I was gullible and easily manipulated… and my father knew it...


I was the older middle child in a family of 8… when I was 10 the company that my dad worked for transferred him out of state to Michigan… to avoid unemployment laws and then fired him… he fought the system and won… with his “winnings” he took us all to Disney land… spent the rest of his unemployment money on an expensive washer and dryer… and within a couple months we were evicted…


My foundation cracked a little… my security shaken… this was the first time…

My father was what I would call a passive-aggressive victim… and he played the part well… he would paint a beautiful picture of how his boss was the terrible villain and he was just an innocent bystander… he would justify his actions and then move us out of the terrible situation… thus becoming our family’s savior…


It reminded me of the mafia… they would come through a neighborhood and vandalize it… a few days later they would come back and offer “protection” for money…


After the eviction, we had just enough money to pay for a storage unit and camping fees… so we put everything into garbage bags and vacated our home…


I remember living at the campground for months… two tents and food in a cooler… never knowing if it had spoiled or not… my dad would scrounge for work and never seem to be able to find it… churches and jobs were all aware of his strategies… so we would eventually move out of town…


My memories have a lot of damage and holes… but I remember as the season turned from summer… to fall… to winter… tent camping shifted from fun… to survival… and friends and family would bail him out… over the years he became known for it… and I vowed to myself that I would never be like him…


His habits were like clockwork… get a job… get fired… blame the company… get evicted…

This happened so many times I can’t even count them… Fast forward to my teens… my father kept stumbling over and over and over again always striving but never achieving…

His “big break” came when he moved us into the projects and lived off the government…

My father was a large intimidating man who saw me as more of an opportunity than a son… He had big dreams for starting businesses and would frequently spend all of our family’s money on unsuccessful hair-brained ideas…


When I turned 14 1/2 he asked me to get a job… he built me up to believe that I would have the freedom to save or spend it as I saw fit… but time would tell how that promise would pan out… leaving me feeling used, abused and unloved…


After shattered security, unfulfilled promises, verbal & physical abuse and years of manipulation… I had no self esteem… and I carried it for decades… music was my escape… church was my refuge… and God… was just too far away…


When I was 28 my father called me… I hadn’t talked to him in 9 years… since the day he told me to leave and never come back… I admit it… his voice made me shiver… part fear and part anger…


My mom divorced my dad when I was in my mid twenties… and from what I knew, at this point he was homeless…


I hated my father… he was a deep source of unexplainable pain…


I heard a pathetic voice on the other line… “Michael?!” He said… “I’m homeless… I hurt my back… your mother won’t help me… I don’t have anywhere to go… may I please come stay with you?!”… his words felt like vomit in my throat… my wife said “No Way!”…

But suddenly… I felt a warmth come over me… I had an overwhelming sense of compassion come over me… and then I had an idea…


I told my dad that he could come stay up in Wisconsin… but not with us… I rented him an apartment… bought him groceries… paid his utilities and chauffeured him where he needed to go… every day… I couldn’t stand the sight of him… his smell… his voice… made me feel sick…


The condition was that I would pay for his needs for 6 months… and in that time I expected him to get on his feet…


6 months passed like molasses… but I kept my word come hell or high water as they say in the postal service…


The day came when I had to enforce our agreement… I approached him hating him to the core… but… again… compassion… I was so confused as to why I couldn’t speak my feelings and destroy him with my words… and then… another idea came to me…


I made a few phone calls and invited my father to go to the neighboring city for the day… I told him I would buy him new clothes… and treat him to his favorite restaurant… he agreed…


We got into the truck and I asked him where he wanted to go?… “McDonalds” he said… so we went…


My father was a very obese man at about 450lbs at this point of his life… so his choice food was 2 bags of cheeseburgers… 2 BAGS…


Sitting in the truck, I looked over at him holding his cheeseburger bounty like they were his favorite stuffed animals… “pathetic…” I thought… but then again… compassion…

He asked where we were going and I said “you’ll see…” an hour later we arrived at the Veterans hospital in Madison, WI… his face turned red with anger… he threw his cheeseburgers at me and cussed me out for 15 mins shaking my truck and denting my dashboard…


I sat calmly and said “let me know when you’re done, I can stay here all night if needed.” I had complete peace… the nurses came to the door and knocked politely trying to coerce him from the truck… he wouldn’t budge, so I took my keys, gave my number to the nurses and walked to the coffee shop a couple blocks away… I never saw him again…


I heard about him though… the nurses called me one month later and said this was the worst case of trauma they’d ever seen… “Agent Orange” they said…


My father had been in the Vietnam war… a foot soldier… a victim of chemical warfare… he had lost his mind… and as I heard the story… I fell into tears…


That was the day that the Holy Spirit helped me forgive… 28 years of questions and pain… vanished… all the hate I felt for that man… was gone… for good…


I was so thankful…


The life you’ve been given is a gift… unforgiveness is a killer… the Bible says it’s death to your body… if you’re facing unforgiveness today, you’re not alone. Everyone deals with it at some point in their lives…


But listen… the only way to release unforgiveness is by the Spirit of God… Jesus came to set the captives free… so if you want to be free? Know Jesus. Because He is the way, the truth and the life, and it’s the Truth that you know that sets you free.


Thank you for staying with me through this long post. I hope it blessed you today.


Michael





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