Just for Dads ~ July 2020
According to the dictionary, the adjective “estranged” means a loss of affection, a turning away from someone. The word “strange” within it seems to suggest an alienation of affection—that a loving relationship has not only soured but also turned distant and even somewhat hostile. My father recently passed away. Neither I nor my two siblings had seen him in 25 years. About eight years ago, I reached out to him to tell him that I was all right and that I forgave him. I showed him pictures of his grandchildren. We did not have contact since that day.
My father was a well-known musician in the very small community where he had lived for the last thirty years or more. He had been living alone in a hotel room at the benevolence of the hotel owner. The police detective called to the hotel after his death searched his belongings and asked those who knew him about his next of kin. The only thing people seemed to know about him were stories that he shared during music sets. Those stories did not include anything about his family. We learned of his death from a Facebook post shared to a community page, days after his death. Facebook posts and stories filled in a lot of information about what he had been doing the past twenty-five years. There were multiple posts with questions about his next of kin. Nobody in the community seemed to have any idea about his history. One friend said that he had two children, but they were estranged from him.
It is amazing how much I have I thought of the word “estranged” in the past couple of weeks. I have felt both defensive and contemplative. I was not the one to cause the estranged relationship. What was my responsibility to further reach out and seek a relationship with someone who did not seek to have one with me? The Bible says in Malachi 4:6, NASB: “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” As I am writing this, it feels that we are living out this Old Testament prophesy. Some of the social ills plaguing our society have what is called a “father factor” to them, meaning the absence of a father has been shown to be a contributor. The Malachi Bible verse says it is the responsibility of both the father and the child to turn to one another to avoid a curse in the land. I pray you are able to safely reconcile relationships with a parent or child in your life that are estranged. There will be a day when it is too late. I pray that restoration of relationships happens today and that our land is healed.