It was one year ago today we did an intervention on my dad.
Just day's before, we got the call from an innocent bystander who found him incoherent at a truck stop in middle-of-nowhere Arizona. My dad had been driving his truck and fifth-wheel, drunk, and literally lost his way...as well as all consciousness.
When the ambulance arrived, his blood alcohol count alone should have taken his life. Worse, his ongoing reckless behavior could have cost someone their life. But by the grace of God, my dad was spared and our biggest fear of him putting someone else's life in jeopardy was temporarily at rest.
In the days that followed, my dad was airlifted to Phoenix to receive treatment. Having had a triple bypass surgery barely a year before, years of poorly-managed type 2 diabetes and associated nerve damage, plus increasing signs and symptoms of wernicke korsakoff syndrome, we knew we had to make this hospital admission count.
We had to get him help.
My brother had flown into Houston for our birthday weekend just hours before we got the call from this kind stranger in Arizona. No sooner than my dad being air-lifted away, my brother was on the next plane out to go begin analyzing what our next steps were. Within 48 hours, I had childcare figured out and I was on my way to meet my brother and my dad in Arizona. I couldn't leave my brother alone for what we knew was to come.
After multiple attempts over the years to get my dad help for his alcohol addiction through means like meditation and hypnosis, support through organizations like AA, and even inpatient rehab during my senior year of high school, this was it.
My brother and I, alone with a social worker, had to say enough was enough. We scheduled an intervention to face my dad's disease head on.
No longer could we let my dad destroy his own life while putting others in such danger. The stress we felt on a daily basis over where he was, his condition, and what care (if any) he was taking for himself was more challenging than raising two small children. Our hearts had been tormented by his disease since the day our parents divorced and our eyes were first awakened to the depth of his alcoholism. He had nearly ruined our lives on numerous accounts and was too close to doing so completely with his.
Yet somehow, in the weeks before all this happened, the Holy Spirit had been prompting me to pray for my dad. I wasn't sure exactly why at the time other. I had prayed to forgive him, to love him, and to find ways to try and help him so many times before, but this time was different. I felt God leading me to a verse for my dad that I wrestled with greatly in the weeks leading up to this event and ultimately, the intervention:
"I praise you God because he (my dad) is fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14
As soon as the severity of this all started to set in, how grateful I was for these words. This Truth. The perspective of God's love for a man that I had such jaded lenses to see in such a way. Beautifully and wonderfully made were never words I would have used to describe my dad after years upon years of hurt and destruction set in. But in what became his final year of life, how thankful I am for God's goodness to provide His Truth and the lens of His love for my earthly father in such a time as this.
On my red-eye flight to Phoenix, I was able to reflect on this Scripture as the basis for what God led me to say at the intervention. Amidst many tears and tangents, I tried to share God's love again with my dad, someone who had repeatedly denied God and yet so desperately needed a Savior.
I don't know the words to say to you. My heart breaks even thinking about having this intervention and yet the thought of losing you altogether hurts tremendously worse.
I don't know how Jon and I can keep letting you live like this though. This is not freedom. This is not the retirement you dreamed of nor the life you should desire for yourself. You are shackled to your sin and it is slowly but surely, killing you. I can't stand to see this go on any longer.
Over the years, I feel like I have done everything I can do for you. I have tried to physically, emotionally, and spiritually help you and yet you continue to refuse to help yourself. I can't help but wonder - is this what you want your story to be? Is this truly how little you value your self worth?
That's why I am going to take this minute to get real and be honest with you about something.
You may have heart disease, vascular disease, type 2 diabetes, wernicke-korsakoff syndrome, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cirrhosis. Yet even with your heart, arteries, pancreas, brain, kidneys, cells, and liver all on their last leg, still God declares you beautifully and wonderfully made. And if God declares this about you, his son Jeff who has still not yet accepted His Son Jesus, I will too fight for you and declare you as beautifully and wonderfully made. Even in as ugly as a moment as this.
The irony is Dad, I have been praying for you over the past few weeks before any of this even happened. In doing so, this verse in Psalm 139 is what God put clearly on my heart about you. I have been meditating on why this was what Truth God impressed upon me towards you. All I can keep coming back to is this verse. I don't consider it coincidence that days before you made some of your dumbest choices to date, God still spoke to me of your value.
This is not your value because of what you've done, Dad, but because of who He is. This value is not because of who you are, Dad, but because of what He's done. I could count 1,000 of your mistakes. I am so tempted to keep a record of all the times you've wronged me, my brother, my mom, our extended family, friends, and put the public in harms way. My natural instinct is to do so and to just let you suffer the consequences of the repeatedly poor choices you have made. And yet every time I pray, I continue to come back to this:
You are fearfully and wonderfully made, Dad.
Maybe not in my eyes at this moment, but in the eyes of the Creator of the Universe. Maybe not in your eyes after years of abuse, but in the eyes of the One who formed your inmost being. So if this is true, which I fully believe it is, I will put all trust, all hope, and all faith into fervently believing this about you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, Dad.
Jesus says that even one lost sheep is worth looking for. Worth fighting for. Worth rejoicing over when that lost sheep returns. Let this be you, Dad.
I hope you will see how you have been looked after, fought for, and can be rejoiced over with a change in your heart and a change your ways. I hope you will stop destroying not only your life, but also those around you as well. I hope you will see that this is your chance to receive God's grace as your unmerited favor. I hope you will receive the opportunity to turn things around, starting today.
While I have so many wrongs I want to pin on you in my flesh, I know with deep and convicting faith that the price for all the pain you have caused as already been paid. Jesus paid the price for you. He assumed that huge price I so feel you deserve to have to pay. In doing so, he also declares that while we were STILL sinners, he stood in our place to pay that price - not just for you but also for me. Whether you are living amidst your sin now Dad or already have received His unmerited favor as I have Dad, we both need Jesus. We need His grace. We need His favor. We need His freedom from sins that so deeply shackle us. We can both start living in light of this today.
Because I have faith in a God who does give this kind of grace, favor, and freedom Dad, it is my duty to bear witness to it. I sit here before you to say, I believe you are fearfully and wonderfully made Dad. I believe you are worth receiving God's grace. I believe God's unmerited favor is as much for you as it is for me. I surrender all list of wrongs I have pridefully pinned on you under the same forgiveness I too need and know in Christ. For if I am commanded to not only love my God but also to love my neighbor, I can't help but be humbled enough to ask myself:
How much more am I to love my earthly dad?
You are hard to love sometimes, Dad. Really hard to love. But you are worth fighting for. And even if you choose to give up on yourself, I am not giving up on you. I am fighting for you. I am declaring your fearfully and wonderfully made until the day God welcomes you home. I just hope and pray that you will receive His grace and go from your old ways so someday, you can go home and find peace with Him in Heaven. Choose to believe this about yourself, Dad:
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Please choose to believe this.
There is no doubt this is a personal topic, likely the most personal one I have shared to date. To most, this is also something that should be kept very private. Please know that I share this after much prayer and consideration though. For whatever reason, I feel God calling me to share these deep, desperate prayers in hopes that they may help even one hurting person. Alcoholism and its affects on a family can be an isolating, overwhelming, and unbearable to deal with. But as I begin to sort through all of the emotions, the hurts, the heartaches, and the hardships of losing my dad this last year, I need to shed light on where God is still good and how He still has always showed up. I don't want to bring shame to my dad nor to our family, but also I don't want to fail to give glory to God for the love He has for each of us, including those who at times can appear or act like "the least of these."
If you ever need someone to listen, talk to, ask about the Christian faith, or pray for you (or a loved one), I am here. My inbox is always open: firstname.lastname@example.org.