Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stepping forward in spite of fear

Not a day passes that I don't think about my dad and my grandparents.  This is often prompted by the sound of our mail truck pulling up to the mailboxes across the street.  After he pulls off I head to our mailbox, praying that today's the day my grandmother will write.  Still, no word.  I wonder if she thinks about me everyday too.  I wonder if she's read my letters and understands my heart.  I try to make sense of what would cause a grandmother to choose silence rather than a relationship with her granddaughter.

And I wonder about my grandfather.  Was he just having a conversation with a long lost family member when we talked last week, or does he realize that I'm every bit as much his grandchild as the other 14 grand kids that he'll have over this Sunday for Easter?  People automatically love unborn babies.  Does my grandfather feel that sort of love for me, even though I'm almost 37 and he's never known me?

I sent him a quick email after we talked last Tuesday.  I just sent a family photo and my contact information.  He'd already told me that he's not a writer but that he's up for phone calls anytime, so I don't expect a great deal of email communication.  I'd thought he might at least type back "Thanks, nice picture."  Something to reassure me that he's willing to make an effort and that it's safe for me to step towards him.  But there was nothing...  Till today.

He emailed me.  Still not a word, but he attached a family tree.  It's just information about his parents and siblings - marriage and birth dates, full names, and causes of death.  Nothing personal, but it's something.  He had to have thought of me to find the document, scan it, and email it.  But then, he could have just been doing a favor for a long lost family member seeking out ancestral information.

This whole idea of building a relationship with people who have never reached out to me is scary.  I can honestly see why people don't do it - people in their shoes and mine.  We have to take a leap of faith to care about each other and express that care.  I take that back.  I already care, it's expressing that care that scares me to tears.  I fear feeling humiliated if I express a desire for them and they don't want it; yet I know that it takes courage, grace and mercy to seek those who have (in appearance at least) rejected and abandoned me.  My impulse is to feel as if I need to have faith in them - in their intentions and desires, as if I need to trust them - but if I wait to trust them first, then it will never happen.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7

It's not faith in people that I need; but the knowledge of who and whose I am.  I came from my mother's womb, but God placed me there.  He placed me into the care of my mom and dad, but He's actually my creator.  My father.  The one I belong to.  That is something no one can take away from me.

It is crazy how it feels as if everything in my life has led to this.  Do I or don't I go out on this scary limb to reach my family?  God has done a tremendous work on my heart; perhaps so that I can be the one to courageously reach out so that He can restore wholeness and connection to a family that has long suffered without it.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!" Philippians 2:3-8

As I studied this a few weeks ago, I thought about all of those who have realistically voiced concerns about how I might be hurt by my family's rejection.  But I feel so called by the Lord to reach out to them, and so reminded by this verse that Jesus loved us so much that he died on a cross.  Am I above Jesus?  Am I to live a life of self-preservation?

For me, the answer is no.  Additionally, rejection - should it come - will not be anything I can't handle.  There is no question that I will rebound should something go not-so-great.  This is all scary, yes.  I have to rely on the Lord for direction and courage at every turn, but I truly believe that these efforts at reconciliation is exactly where God has led me. 

I know He is God and can do anything...but I just don't know how He has the time to intricately orchestrate each of our lives.  My...  How he loves us!


Update:  Bud has emailed me five times today.  Four have had ancestral documents attached without a message in the body, but one was a short email...  He signed it "Grandpa".  That one word - the word of his choosing - feels so intimate and familiar.  I feel so wonderfully full of hope.  I thank God today for Bud's timing and kindness; and I pray for vulnerability and sensitivity for both of us, as we wade into this unknown territory of expressing concern for someone we do not yet know and trust.

1 comment:

janelle aldridge said...

Hi, Tonya. Just read your thoughts on contact with your grandfather. I suppose as you trust in the Lord, he did give you your grandfather's name in a dream. - and I do believe in dreams and angels - they're real. Good luck in your journey of family. You have already done wonders with your own. God will be with you.

I love you. You are a precious gift of God.
janelle xx