Today’s post comes to you from my online writer friend, Kristy Horine. If you struggle with a broken relationship in your life, I pray her willingness to share her pain will help lead you to a place of forgiveness .
It was the only thing I could say as I watched my husband stumble through the door. Disappointment, anger, and an overwhelming despair clenched at my gut. This had been my life for over a decade. The absences, the denials, the stench, the thick-tongued slur, the obvious diminished faculties.
I didn’t follow him into the bedroom that night. I didn’t make sure he was safe from toppling over and causing himself harm. I didn’t listen for him choking on his own vomit. I had children who were sick with deep-chested springtime colds to take care of and he was so drunk he didn’t even notice.
Then, like so many times before, he had a few sober days.
He went to the grocery and filled a basket with microwavable cups of macaroni and cheese, a whole case of chicken noodle soup, clear bubbly soda, boxes of crackers in various shapes and flavors, and chocolate.
When he returned to the house, he never made eye contact, only set the bags on the kitchen counter and said, “Here’s some Feel Good Food.”
I don’t know if it was guilt or love that compelled him to make that trip to the store. I only know it was a tiny piece of grace and mercy in the abyss of alcoholism that would result in divorce and brokenness in our family.
Fast-forward eight years and my girls hunched around a different kitchen table, just shy of too-miserable-to-move.
In between sniffles, coughs, and groans, they took small bites of the Feel Good Food spread before them. As I watched them savor the morsels, I wondered if they remembered the history behind the comfort food? If I told them, what would it prove? What would it change?
Yet, if I didn’t tell them, would I withhold an opportunity for them to experience healing and to forgive the man who continued to bring pain and brokenness into their lives?
Just six months before, their dad had been arrested on yet another DUI charge, this time with aggravated charges stacked beside it. His attorney drew out the trial with continuance after continuance.
It was hard enough to get through the teen years with functional parents, let alone carry the worry and uncertainty that accompanied having an alcoholic dad.
In the middle of this internal battle came a gentle reminder of Proverbs 12:18, “The tongue of the wise brings healing.” Who better to put aside pride, sorrow, pain and fear? Who better to model wisdom, understanding and forgiveness?
The Lord had brought me so far. He delivered me from a spirit of despair into a place of peace. He gave me the power and the courage to forgive.
I wanted my girls to experience the freedom of forgiving someone who had wronged them.
I took a sip of my coffee and offered a silent, rapid prayer. God, help. I took a deep breath and began.
“Do you remember the first time you had Feel Good Food?”
Intrigued, the girls played a guessing game, listing family and friends and people from church. When they had exhausted their guesses, I spread my hands on the table beside my cup.
“Your dad did,” I said.
The girls froze and looked, first at one another, and then back at me.
The dad who couldn’t get past his addiction to call or text them? The dad who not once came to their school plays and their choir ensembles? The dad who didn’t bother to ask about their days, or their grades, or their lives, even though he lived just one county over? That dad? He came up with Feel Good Food?
“You were very little. You were sick. He went to the store.”
They were the only words I could push out at that point. Yet, somehow, they were enough.
“I don’t remember the good things about him,” the eldest said.
“It’s hard to remember those. But I really think your dad had something good and sweet and loving in him that day. I think he really did want you to feel good again,” I said. “And, we want that for your dad now, too.”
The girls finished their Feel Good Food, rose to hug me and whisper thanks into my hair. As I cleaned up the dishes and the crumbs, I thought of the broken that had been mended in my heart and, hopefully, in theirs.
Even though my girls didn’t see the love of their dad at that moment, they knew they had felt it once.
To this day, their father remains an unrepentant alcoholic. No great restoration of relationship. No making up for lost time. Yet, around a kitchen table, with a story, Feel Good Food transformed into Forgiving Food, each bite delivering a generous helping of healing and a reminder:
Still forgive; still pray; still hope.
Join the conversation. How has God enabled you to forgive someone who’s wronged you? Do you regularly pray for the healing and restoration of a loved one who has hurt you?
If you’d like to read more about forgiveness, check out the Barrick Family’s story.
Kristy Horine is an award-winning Kentucky writer: journalist by trade; creative by grace. Throughout her professional career, she has served in many capacities from executive director presiding over writing events, to writer, editor, teacher and student. Kristy writes the monthly Mom’s Minute for the Northeast Christian Church’s Women’s Ministry Newsletter in Lexington, KY. She currently serves on the Executive Board of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference (KCWC) and as the Ohio Valley Zone Director for the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). She founded 3rd Letter Christian Writers in Lexington, Ky in 2015.
She makes her home in Paris, Kentucky with her husband, four children, and a variety of cats, dogs and chickens. Her desire is to be found faithful with her writing and speak with all boldness of the grace of Christ. Contact Kristy via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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