Letters to Dad

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I was stuck in Little Rock with no money, a phone with no batteries, no close friends to notice me missing, and no immediate ride. My clothes were dirty – the smell of booze and pit-sweat was spicy. But I had the Little Rock public library: five floors of glass and wood and books and other people with no homes. It’s an old warehouse.

I had three dollars, and the library had a store. That’s where I found this little black notebook for two of my dollars. It was two bucks because it was used, but I didn’t know that yet. I found myself a corner to write some, but before I could use the pen I’d stolen from the nice librarian, who was distracted by some guy asking her if she had any quarters, I found these letters addressed to a lot of folk’s favorite daddy.

I’ve reprinted them in full because they’re worthwhile. They’re innocent, beautiful, hopeful, and lonely. These letters embody that feeling of uncertainty we’re all filled with. It’s something we’re too scared to talk about or haven’t had anyone who’s been willing to talk. This dude found somebody or made somebody up or whatever you want to believe.

More than thirteen years ago this guy was in crisis. I hope he’s okay.

6-23-2000

Dear Dad,

I do not feel very well today. I am mostly worried about my relationship with Lana. On the night of my 21st birthday, two nights ago, she revealed to me that it was only three days before our first kiss on the first night of June that she had broken off (officially) her relationship with Samson, and this is why he and Jesse are stirring up dissension in the Holy Trinity Church. Actually, she had told me the night before that it was ten days. And that was the first I had heard of any of this business.

Well, Dad, she was very upset and crying because she had not told me before. And I myself was shocked by the revelation. Red flags began immediately to spring to my mind. “Rebound!” they warned. Memories of Shay, Celia, and Harriet sprang to my mind. I’m sorry, Dad; I just couldn’t help it. In Your Word, it is written: “Above all else, guard the heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Will someone from the next set of missionaries come along and enchant her and sweep her off her feet the way I did? Father, I told her early on that the one thing that made me angry was deception, and as long as she did not deceive me, she would never hurt me.

And then she deceived me.

I am not angry with her, Dad – I know it wasn’t, and isn’t, an easy situation for her. But I would be lying if I said that I was not hurt by this.

But Dad, I forgave her. I talked to her on the phone last night, and she said she was fine, but I’m not sure I believe her. And then, for some reason I still don’t know, I asked her if she wanted to continue our relationship. She asked me, “What do you think?” I told her that I hoped so, and she said that she did too. I told her that it would be difficult, and I had her promise me that if she changed her mind, that she would not try to protect my feelings or tell white lies, but rather, tell me immediately. I don’t know why I said it.

Dad, I just ask you to be with Lana and comfort her. Give strength to her young heart. And let her know that I love her. Thank you so much, Dad, for giving me the opportunity to know Lana. She has changed my life. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

6-24-2000

Dear Dad,

Let it never be said that You are not a God who answers prayers! Later yesterday you answered my prayer in full, O God. You presented the opportunity for Lana to tell her dad about us, and she took it, Dad. What’s more, you softened Juan’s heart and brought joy both to Lana and myself, as well as to Jason and Lulu.

Dad, I would very much like for Lana to come and visit me at Christmas, but above all, I know that it is right to seek after Your will and not my own. And so I ask You to tell me, Dad, what is Your will in this situation? God, I pray for guidance.

I also pray, Father, for the UPOA Foundation. It has gotten off to a slow start, but I lay it in Your hands, Dad, and I pray that Your Spirit be with all those who are laboring to make it work.

Father, I give you thanks and praise. I can feel Your hand in my life and I am so glad for that. Thank you for healing Cole. Help him to come to terms with his sin with Paige. Dad, protect my earthly parents and move their hearts, I pray. Help them to understand Your will and to be molded by it.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

6-26-2000

Dear Dad,

Thank You, Dad, for restoring the friendship between Cole and me, at least to a degree. I wish that we had never been at odds with one another. But I prayed to you, Dad and I was trying to do Your will. Heresy is deadly, especially fundamentalist legalism. And I pray both for Susan and for her heretical past, that you might enter their lives and show them the true light of Christian freedom.

Dad, I want to take this time to pray for my earthly parents. Father, my mom neither knows You nor thinks she needs to. She is content with her material life as it is, Dad. I ask You now to move in her heart and bring her closer to You. My earthly father is more curious about You, I think; I pray that you stimulate his heart to personal study of Your Word.

Dad, I pray for the UPAO mission and I pray that You move in the hearts of these students and bring them to You. I have seen the seeds planted, and I communicate with some of my brothers and sisters in the faith who remain.

Dad, You know of my growing feelings for Lana. She is very dear to my heart. But I ask first of all that Your will be done, Dad. This is what we both want. I am trying very hard to return to Peru as soon as possible – if it be Your will, then please, Dad, help me to do it. But if it be not Your will, then may You forbid that it should ever come to pass.

Father, Lana is young, and her heart is tender and sensitive. She has not felt the pain that the so-called love of this world can bring. Dad, you know that to me Lana is like a precious jewel, a star in the dark night. I pray, Dad, that nothing I do ever hurt her at all. This is my prayer to You. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

 Here’s where they cut off. But it’s a good end, it’s an end that stopped my miserable sad-sackedness in the library and made me smile. This guy didn’t have anybody besides dear Lana. His disapproval caused his friendships to suck and his relationship with his parents to suck, but he still wouldn’t stop hoping things would turn out okay. Boy, I do wish I had that sometimes.

The dude’s thirty-four now. I wonder what he’s like. I hope he, Lana, his parents, Samson, Jesse, Susan, Juan and everyone else are planning to sit down to a nice turkey dinner this Thanksgiving. I hope they’ll give each other high-fives and play Twister with their kids. To me, that’s how these letters really end because life shouldn’t be so tough.

cat-playing-twister

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