I’m headed to Geneseo, NY in a few weeks for my 40th High School Reunion. I’ve been to each of our every five year class reunions and look forward to reliving my high school memories of classes, basketball games, and high school golf. Perhaps this year by the end of the night, I’ll have enough nerve to ask my classmates about secrets I’ve kept hidden all these years. Did you know that my Dad was an alcoholic who beat my mother? Did you know that when I ran away from home before our graduation it was because he had hit me that June night? Do I have the nerve to let those secrets out after all these years of pretending that it didn’t really matter?
I’ve just finished Ian Cron’s new book, Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and me: a memoir of sorts. Since my parents and both my previous husbands have passed away, Ian’s words about his father jumped off the page at me:
“I failed,” I said. “I never got him to love me, and now he’s dead. All my life, I felt that it was my fault he was an alcoholic. It was up to me to get him to stop. If only I’d been a better son, a smarter student, a more talented musician, maybe he’d have found the will to turn his life around so he could show up for mine. Is there something so rotten and hateful about me that he couldn’t bring himself to see me, to love me, to even touch me? My head knows it wasn’t my fault he was an alcoholic and that it wasn’t up to me to fix him, but my heart doesn’t believe it. He’s gone. Now there’s no hope of making him love me. Ever.”
His counselor responded, “Ian, look at me. I see you, and you’re beautiful.”
In 2008, I was touched by the Holy Spirit and learned how to love. I had the same experience as Ian and heard the same words, “Agatha, look at me. I see you, and you’re beautiful.”
I realized that I’d chased after men who were just like my father, aloof from their insecurities and impossible to please as they searched for their identities in other idols. They were “strict fathers” unable to love and turning to alcohol or other women to find their worth. They all kept raising the bar in our relationship so that I never felt quite good enough, never felt loved. It was God’s love that I had been searching for all along. I offered forgiveness to my parents and it freed me from the weight of resentment I carried for so many years.
Do you know a “strict father” who is unable to love, or someone who’s chasing after them who never feels quite good enough? Please forward them this post and send a copy of Ian Cron’s book.
They are beautiful, too.
Blessings, my friend,