Learning from the Past for a better Future

I’ve been thinking about what to write for this blog entry. I’ve had thoughts like, “It’s the first one of the new year so it better be good.” Honestly, I’m not sure why I place so much pressure on myself, especially when I have one thing on my mind. It’s the same thing that is on my mind every year around this time. Fair warning, it’s about to get real. On New Year’s Eve in 2007 my father tried to commit suicide. At that time I was living in Taiwan and he was in California. Our relationship was very strained, as it had been for quite some time. My father was in a drinking and driving accident when I was 8-years-old and it left him unable to use his arms and legs. He has been an alcoholic for as long as I can remember. When I visited him after his accident it was difficult for me to not only see my father unable to care for himself, but many times I would help provide care for him during my visits. His suicide attempt 7 year ago changed me a great deal.

I had been living in Taiwan for 6 months and I was finally getting to a point where I felt semi-confortable and as though I had a community around me who cared a great deal for me. When I received the call from the hospital all of these feelings changed rather drastically. First, I was thrust into making medical decisions regarding my father’s health without actually seeing him. The doctor on the phone used phrases like, “He’s been like this [unable to walk or use his arms] for 15 years. What kind of life is he living anyway?” and “He tried to commit suicide for a reason.” I was 22-years-old and I could rationally understand the doctor’s point, but in my heart I valued my father’s life and what he still had to offer society despite his limitations.

Many people around me did not know how to respond to the situation and so some chose to not respond at all or to simply respond with “I’m praying for you and your dad.” I truly appreciated the prayers, but at that moment I felt so alone. It changed my view of church for quite some time. To this day I still struggle with becoming involved with a church because I am still dealing with some of the hurt feelings I experienced (both due to my church in Taiwan as well as our sending church in America) from that time. I understand that churches are full of imperfect people, I being one of them, but that fact does not lessen the pain I felt during that time. I wanted to step away and heal, but I felt judged for trying to do this. I’m not trying to speak negatively about any church, but rather express my feelings freely.

A short time after his attempt, my husband and I flew to California to stay with my father. Originally I had been told that my father would never awake from his coma and if he did there would surely be brain damage. My father awoke from his coma shortly before I made the trip to California. While there, I was told that no brain damage had occurred.

Perhaps the most difficult part of the trip was what I found when I arrived at my father’s apartment. I found alcohol that he had consumed that night along with a mess from his suicide attempt. I poured out the alcohol, cleaned up the mess, and began sorting through some of his belongings. While doing this, I found his letter, and what he had written about me in it was very painful. I have not shared it with anyone but my husband; in that moment I felt that my father truly despised me. I carried those feelings with me for about four years.

This event impacted rest of my time in Taiwan (we stayed for a total of two years) and my first couple years in Lexington as I healed from the event. Thankfully, I have healed a great deal and my relationship with my father is slowly getting better. I share all of this information because my blog is about health and growth. Every New Year’s Eve I cannot help but recall that time and what I learned through it. It taught me a great deal about my own strength, my view of God, my view of Church, and much more. In addition, it was amazing how God used people to encourage me during some of my lowest points. For example, the day that I received the news about my father we got a package in the mail. This package was from a close group of friends and included foods from America as well as an episode of The Office that they re-enacted for us since we were not able to watch it in Taiwan. To this day I believe it was no coincidence that the package arrived when it did. I cannot even begin to explain how much a cried when I read the letters and then watched the video which included our friends talking to us at the end of it. My good friend, Judy, whom I met while in Taiwan, came to my apartment with food and the group of young girls in the Bible study that Judy and I led together. They surrounded me and prayed for me. I am so thankful that God takes difficult situations and uses them for His glory. I pray that any of you who are struggling at this time will find comfort in God. If you ever want someone to pray for/with you, please feel free to contact me. I’m wishing all of you a wonderful 2015 that brings all of us many blessings and the best health yet!

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