Advent 2012: Setting Captives Free

…from self destruction to self-love               

Megan and the baby came home from the hospital on December 20th, the same day Henry Jacob’s was to be buried. As they walked in the house, Megan discovered Jim had cleaned the house and gone out and bought a real Christmas tree.

“Wow, when did you find time to do all this?” Megan asked.

“Well, Justin and I were up past our bedtime last night, decorating the tree,” Jim said. Megan couldn’t help but laugh when she saw the tree decorations, which consisted of baby rattles she’d been given at her baby shower, and an assortment of Justin’s action figures. “We couldn’t find where you stored the real ornaments,” Jim admitted.

The four of them got changed and headed for the funeral, picking up Jim’s mom on the way. As they pulled onto the farm, they saw remnants of crime scene tape fluttering in the wind around the evergreen shrubs in front of the house.

“Well, it looks like mom decorated for Christmas too,” Jim said with a chuckle.

“Jim, that’s not funny,” Megan said. “We’ve got to get your mom out of this house. She shouldn’t have to stay here with all the painful memories, especially considering your dad shot himself in their bedroom.”

“I know you’re right, but what do you propose we do?” Jim asked. Just then, his mom came out the front door wearing her best Sunday dress. Jim quickly got out and helped her to the car.

“Carol, you look nice” Megan said. “The bruising is starting to fade on your jaw.” Carol attempted a smile and a thank you, in spite of her emotional and physical pain. The car ride to the funeral parlor was relatively quiet except for Justin who would occasionally break into “Jingle Bells.”

There was a sparse gathering at the funeral, mainly distant relatives and a couple of old retired farmers and their wives. The preacher had never met Henry Jacobs and it showed. His sermon was so generic; it could have been just about anyone lying in the casket.

Jim fidgeted throughout the eulogy, until the preacher finally stopped and sat down. Just as the funeral director started down the aisle to give last minute instructions about the procession, Jim surprised everyone by standing up and walking up to the podium.

“I know it was not planned for me to speak, but I need to say something. With all due respect to the reverend, I feel it’s important someone say something about the deceased. My dad was an S-O-B. The few of us who are here today know that to be a fact. We’ve all, in some way or another, been a victim of his anger and abuse. In reality, most of the people who knew him hated him and if we were honest, would admit we are secretly glad that he’s dead.”

Jim’s mom let out a whimper and covered her face with a handkerchief. Megan put her arm around her and gave Jim a concerned look.

“I’m sorry, mom,” Jim continued. “But hear me out. I don’t know much about my old man; where or how he grew up. But from my one, single memory of Grandpa Jacobs, my guess is, he lived a pretty miserable childhood. And that might just be the reason he made my childhood miserable as well. And up until the other day, I was doing the same thing with my family. I was making all our lives a living hell. But something happened to me this past week. I guess I hit the wall, as they say in recovery circles. I came to the lowest point in my life, where I nearly lost it all. And that’s the point when I had to come to terms with my own attitude and behavior. Yes, I had been a victim of unspeakable abuse from my dad, but I realized I didn’t have to remain a victim. If I choose to live as a victim and refuse to forgive my dad for all the abuse, then I choose to allow my dad to have control over my life, even from the grave. But I’m done! I’m done living in fear of my father. I’m done with the hate and the anger. I’m done spending my life medicating my pain with my own self-destructive addictions.”

Jim cleared his throat and continued.

“I believe my dad has given all of us a gift. That’s right, a gift, because he has given us a picture of where self-destructive behavior ultimately leads. Self-destructive behavior, like alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual addiction, anger, or even debt, all ultimately leads to death. So thank you, Henry Jacobs for showing that to us. I forgive you for the abuse because I believe you were a fellow victim of your own abuse and self-hatred. Thanks for providing me shelter and food and education and for a few precious happy memories in my life. I hope you’re at peace now. I hope you can have the joy of meeting Jesus and experiencing true love now. I don’t know what your future in eternity will be like, but I do know that I am committed to making my remaining years on earth a personal pursuit of HOPE in Jesus, my Higher Power, of living in PEACE with myself, my family and friends, of JOY in spite of whatever circumstance that comes my way, and of LOVE, that seeks the best in everyone I know. So, good-bye dad, I believe you loved me in your own way, and I love you too.”

 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Eccleciastes 3:10-11

Advent Application: God’s business is about bringing beauty from the ashes of our lives. It’s the theme of Jesus’ life and death; born to young parents who were alone with little-to-no family support, he survived a king-ordered genocide aimed at him, only to grow up poor, and then live as a nomad with a group of misfits, constantly at odds with his own religious establishment who ended up having him killed. But that’s not the end of the story. Death did not receive the victory; Jesus did, when he rose from the dead. It is in Christ’s resurrection that we discover the true beauty of God’s purpose in Jesus’ life and in ours. If your life appears to be a heap of smoldering ash, take heart, submit to God and watch Him make it beautiful in its time.

To read this story from the beginning, click here.


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