Richard came to Christ later in life. In his first marriage,
prior to his conversion, he made choices that hurt his son Steven.
While Richard and his son have a cordial relationship today,
Steven is far from God. Richard knew if he was to point his son’s
heart to Christ, he needed to deal with the past. He chose to
write down his thoughts so that he could clearly communicate
them to his son at his next visit. Here is what Richard shared:
I remember once in the car, harshly yelling my lungs out
at you to be quiet and reaching around and grabbing you
by the arm, shaking you to be quiet, all the while driving
along crazily, putting the whole family at risk. I had promised
myself that I would never treat my kids the way I was treated.
That day, I broke that promise.
I was critical of you for the way you played catch with me.
Of course, your vision problem (later corrected by surgery)
just might have had something to do with it. It just might be
that one needs to see correctly in order to catch a ball. I am
so ashamed of myself for that condescending attitude. I am
sure it hurt you.
I did not stay in the hospital overnight with you to comfort
you when you eventually had corrective eye surgery. Someone
gave you a stuffed teddy bear to fill my rightful place.
I was not at home, but was taking a walk with your mom,
when some neighborhood boys attacked you. Your knee was
cut open when they pushed you, and you fell on the metal
edging around the lawn. You suffered alone at the emergency
room until a neighbor located us and we arrived to give permission
for the doctors to treat you. I passed out when the
doctor began to examine your wound, and I saw your torn
flesh and blood, and felt your pain when he cranked the joint.
I remember the coin-purse wound opening and closing during
his manipulation, and I just lost it. Even worse, I did not
have the guts to call the police or confront the boys’ parents
about their bully sons.
Later, I was unfaithful to your mother, broke our wedding
vows, and eventually destroyed our beautiful little family. I
was spiritually ignorant, self-focused, and dead wrong.
Although I fulfilled all my child support requirements,
I backed away from being involved in you and your sister’s
lives. I was a coward in dealing with your mother’s anger and
hurt, and in dealing with the huge pain and disappointment
my choices had created in your lives.
I still think of the beautiful painting you did from a
picture of yourself as a little guy of three or four years old.
I remember the guilt I felt for responsibility of the angry
expression on your face. Things were wrong in our family
between your mother and me, mostly because of me, but I
could finally “see” the effect it was having on my children by
that pained look. I had been completely callous to your needs
and the needs of your sister and your mother.
I am most sorry that I did not know Jesus Christ at that
time of life. I was so arrogant, selfish, and self-centered about
my career. I had a “me, me, me” focus on getting ahead, and
on doing things my way. I had turned my back on all the
religious background I was exposed to as a child. So very
little of what I did as a husband to your mom and as a dad to
you was pleasing to God. I wish I had a second chance to do
things over again.
Steven, I am very sorry for all these things I have shared
with you and the pain and loss they caused you. They were
wrong, and I was wrong. I want to ask you something very
important, but I don’t want you to answer me now unless you
feel you want to. Feel free to take days or weeks to give me
your answer; because this is a very important question . . . will
you please forgive me?
Richard shared his letter with me so that other parents would be encouraged to reach out in grace and love to their children.
Read more in “When They Turn Away” – http://amzn.to/g2MBiw