The other day I wrote with vulnerability the reality I am facing with missing my best friend, my Father. A Father whose suicidal death I have been ashamed of, and in doing so wasn’t honoring or celebrating the life he had. In a sense, I grew up defining my Dad from the worst part of his life and ignoring or denying all the parts of him that were amazing and filled with smiles and joy.
I struggled to see past the coffin.
As I reflect on my life, and even the mistakes and hurts I have caused recently, I am having to rethink this imagery with my Dad because I am rethinking it about myself. I would never want to be defined by the worst parts of my life, by the days I got it wrong, the days I was off track, the days where I missed the mark big time, the days I wish I could go back and redo, the days of regret that will try and haunt and rob me from a fulfilling future. I don’t want to be defined by that. I have to believe I am more, even if other people don’t want to see it. As I stretch myself to do that for me, I have to do that for my Dad as well.
He had a life, a life that is filled with stories that those that loved him have huge smiles filled with tears when they tell them to me. He made a difference, and loved the people around him. He was kind, he brought life to a room, and his smile was infectious and drew people in. These are the stories I hear, and this is the life that he deserves to be remembered by. By the influence he made and not the hurt he caused. Not the worst part in his death that I believe if he was here today he would spend every day regretting. He is more than a bad moment, more than a bad season in his life, more than the hurt that he caused everyone he left behind. He has value, he is still changing lives; he is changing mine.
The lesson my heart is grasping today is that we are more than the mistakes we make, more than the damage we have caused. Once we mess up, we can feel like a complete mess up. I know I do. There are even voices that want to keep reminding me. I have to believe I am more, that with the help of my God he has the power to restore, to redeem, and to heal. That if my God can look at me and see me as more than a bad decision than I should be able to do that for myself, and even greater, I should be able to do that for my Dad as well. And man do I hope that people will be able to do that for me.
God took the broken, bad decisions, miss the mark everyday people of the Bible and He did something with them. If their life was defined by their worst moments, Jesus would have needed more than 33 years to find the people He would use to help spread his message. God uses the people that are hurt and have been disobedient because He doesn’t define us by our mistakes, and He is unashamed to use the broken. He believes in transformation.
I have almost been ashamed of my Dad’s decision in the way he died that I never wanted to talk about him. But with all the things I have done that are disobedient against God, my God isn’t ashamed of me. He is not ashamed to be the God of Emily, so I am choosing to no longer be ashamed to be the Daughter of Ron, my father. He was a great man, a loving man, a man I will no longer be ashamed of because his life is deserving of honor not shame. I need to be proud to be the daughter of a great man instead of ashamed to be the daughter of a man who messed up, because the truth is, that I mess up too. We just messed up in different ways.
I can’t be defined by my mistakes, and the hurt I have caused. I have sat in that for long enough. I am more. You are more. We are more. God sees it, and I choose to see it today as well, no matter who is ashamed of me and who believes otherwise. If God still believes in me than I want to live a life moving forward that honors that instead of being stuck in a place I am not proud of.
My mistakes have happened, and I can’t take them back, but I can choose to grow from them and allow God to teach me through them, or I can let myself be defined by them. I choose growth. I want to make my God not only unashamed, but proud of who He molds me to be.