the scandal of Mercy

Forgiving My "Worthless" Father on Fox News+Book Trailer

Today is launch day. This week is launch week. This very day.  This very week. I have been anticipating (and fearing) it for three years now. (The day "Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers" releases.) May I invite you into this day and week with me? 

But--however strongly I feel about forgiveness, and its power to heal the "universal disaster of sinful brokenness" ----I want you to know, too, that this space will not be overtaken by the book. Next week, we return to normal, which will mean a bit lighter fare (hmmm, thinking about Leslie's Alaska Fashion Tips,  or Happy Winter Survival Strategies?? We'll see how the spirit moves!)  

I plan also to expand and post twice a week rather than just once, in the second post highlighting the best work of thinkers, writers and artists whose work will enrich our own lives. 

But in the meantime, here we are: In the land of broken relationships. In the place of Mercy. In the posture of hope. And there is SO much reason for hope. It IS possible to end generational cycles of "hurt people hurting people."  I'll begin here, with the piece I wrote for Fox News, running here now. 

 "Forgiving My 'Worthless' Father"

      I never called my father worthless. That was his own word for himself.  I had other words to describe him. But in a way he was right. 
       He said it on the phone after I told him I was flying down to see him, from my home in Alaska to the rehab facility in Florida. My sister had flown down already and was there with him now. Other siblings were coming later. He had had a stroke the week before and now could barely speak. 
      "I’ll see you in about three weeks!” I said, trying to make my voice cheerful, to lift him from his misery. 
      “I’mmm . . . not . . . worth . . . ,” he stumbled.
       “Of course you’re worth it!” I protested, horrified. But I knew instantly what he meant. In the human balances of justice and fairness, he had done nothing to deserve this kind of sacrifice and attention from his children. He could not or would not hold a job, leaving us impoverished and ashamed throughout our childhood. He seemed incapable of forming relationships, and treated his children as though we were invisible, except for the abuse visited upon some of us. Soon after we grew up and left our house, he moved to Florida to live alone, thousands of miles from his children. I was glad.
      I saw my father three times in the next thirty years, always me traveling four time zones to see him. I went each time needy and hopeful that he would express interest in me, show some kind of affirmation. I left each time hurt, hollow. He would barely speak to me, and when he did, he ridiculed my faith. The last time I saw him, I resolved never to go back. 
     But eight years later, I was gently pushing his wheelchair down the hallway, sharing meals with him, watching TV in his room, reading to him. In all of it, I could not shake the injustice and inequity--that every gift and kindness given, he had never shown to me. Ever. But something else was even stronger. A desire to forgive. 

                 FOX NEWS ARTICLE FINISHES  Here: 


     Friends, how else to say this? Without forgiveness, there is no hope for the brokenness that surrounds us all, that moves in with our own families. This very week, a disaster threatened one of my most important relationships. I was terrified. And in the midst of it, when I had given up, because no words could undo this-----words did undo it. Compassion did undo it. Mercy rescued all of us. Forgiveness delivered us. This is the scandal of mercy----that when we earn only slivers of love, we are given doses and mugs overflowing, plates heaped up and spilling over ...... so much are we given, we spread it and share it and make feasts under every tree, laughing with our mouths full among those we are loving more and more. 

Thank you for sharing this place--and this hope--- with me. It is my deep, hopeful prayer that God would somehow use Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers  to bring relief and respite from some of the "disaster of sinful brokenness" that haunts us all.

   With much hope, and with much gratitude,