Tonight I stumbled into and stirred up someone else's private cesspool. I didn't mean to. In fact, I had no idea that the cesspool was even there when I asked my innocent question, and in so doing, I may have ripped open wounds and ruined what had been an amazing evening for someone.
My daughters and I attended an art show, which included live music by some very talented local musicians. After the show, one of the young men walked over to our table to chat. He thought he recognized my older daughter, and it turned out that they did indeed have some mutual friends, and had both attended a large teen Bible study.
In the process of chatting with him, I asked him if he was related to a man who attends my church who has the same last name.
The young man tensed up instantly and there was an awkward moment while he regained his composure. Then he said, "Uh yeah, I am related to him." Long pause. "He's my dad, but I haven't seen him nor had anything to do with him for 4 years now." Long pause. "So, how do you know him?"
I replied that I don't actually know him, just know of him, know who he is, because we attend the same church. So the young musician asked me what church we attend, and I told him, and he said, "DON'T TRUST HIM! He may go to your church, but take it from me, and don't ever trust him."
I quickly changed the subject, mentioned his mom and another mutual friend who had introduced me to his mom a few months ago, and we went on to have a short chat. But before long, he left, and I felt terrible.
This young man had gone from flying high on his success this evening to being reminded of what was probably the single most painful thing in his life, an unresolved relationship with his father, who was no longer part of his life. And it was all because of a casual question from a stranger.
I wonder if my kids will ever experience something like this? At this point, it has been nine months since they have seen their father, and he hasn't made much of an effort to be involved in their lives during those nine months. I can see the pain at being abandoned building in them as the months pass without any word from him.
What can I do to insulate them from this kind of pain? I have tried to rebuild their relationship with him by forcing them to reach out to him, but my efforts have failed miserably. He won't answer their calls, and when he doesn't return the calls or reply to the texts or emails, they hurt worse. When he does email or call (on the obligatory days, like birthdays and Christmas), it is as if a stranger is on the other end of the line. I have emailed him little tidbits about their accomplishments, but he never acknowledges these emails, and I am now very careful not to let them know when I email him, so they will not be disappointed with his lack of response.
Someday, I pray that my kids will either have a relationship with their dad, or at least be at peace with the fact that they don't have one.
I pray the same for the young man I talked to tonight. And my friend, if you ever read this, please know that I am very sorry that I stepped in that cesspool and dredged up that pain. Please forgive me for my careless question, and may God heal your heart!