A Letter to a Dad Who Left


There may be some form of words that I could come up with to begin this letter but I don’t think I would ever find them. To be honest, I don’t know how to start a letter to someone that I have failed to speak to for so long. Someone better with words could maybe come up with something. And out of all the things to say I don’t know if any is more important than this simple truth: I miss you. And I’m sorry that it has been this long since we last spoke. I simply cannot believe it’s 2012 and it was in 2004 that we last exchanged words. I feel terrible. I am sorry if I ever made you believe that I did not want to talk to you or see you. There has never been a day pass that I did not wonder what you were doing or where you were.

I don’t know what has kept me from writing you all these years. Maybe fear. Maybe pride. Maybe uncertainty. I don’t know. But one thing I do know is that I am deeply sorry for standing back in the shadows and not stepping out and writing you or calling. I guess what I feared the most is what on earth would I say. There were so many things that I could say but didn’t know which things to choose. I would have wanted to tell you about college, graduating from college, getting a job, finishing grad school, getting married. There were so many things I wanted you to know but didn’t know how to tell you.

I wanted to know what you were doing. How work was going, where were you living, how was Hershey, and so many other things. 

With all of this, I just wanted you to know that I miss you. I want you to know that I love you and would love to know how you are doing. Again, I am so sorry that I have waited this long to make an effort to get in touch with you. Please forgive me.

I love you more than you know and I hope more than anything to hear from you

soon. But if not, that’s okay too. I just wanted you to know that I have been thinking about you and missing you for so long.

Love you Dad

I wish I could tell you that I heard back from him within that week but I didn’t. Even more I wish I could say I heard back from him period. But I haven’t.

And that’s okay.

I’m okay.

Christ is still sovereign and he is still good.

Writing those words is one thing but believing them is something different entirely. It’s the goodness and mercy of God that allows me to release this situation and place it in his hands and at his feet.

God’s grace and mercy are so freeing for our souls. They allow us to breathe underneath the wreckage of the sin in our lives and the sin entangling this world. It’s God’s mercy that gave me new eyes to see the darkness of my own heart and its effect on how I viewed the brokenness of my family. It’s God’s goodness that gave me new eyes to see my dad. It’s God’s grace that gave me a new heart that brewed new affections for my father.

This new heart and these new affections radically changed the way I understood the reality of my home as a child and my desire to tell my story. I no longer wanted to use these words to hurt, but rather to heal—because Jesus desires restoration for all his children.

And wherever you are right now, maybe on your lunch break in your car or in the back corner of the library while you’re studying or maybe on the way to the grocery store or J.Crew or Urban Outfitters—trust that. Trust that he desires to restore and renew.

My story is the story of many.

And that story is one from inside the dark corners of a soul that many keep secret and silent.

That story is one from a kid who didn’t want it.

A story he didn’t write.

A story she didn’t choose.

A story that is affecting an entire generation.

The story of a generation left on the front porch.

Abandonment happens every day in many way. There’s no question about it. Not one. No one disagrees and no one contests. The question we must wrestle with is: What do we do after abandonment strikes? Many give up. We become empty. We lose hope. We become angry. There’s not even hope of having any sign of hope to come. There is no doubt this is how we feel. Our lives, our stories, and our abandonment are real. It’s ever-present. It looms over us and it quickly becomes our world. Not because we desire it and not because we want to carry it around in our pockets or around our necks.

Not at all.

It’s because of the simple fact that our trust has been shattered. Our security has been broken. Our lives have been turned in every direction and we don’t have a clue how to get them back to the way they were. The questions have been posed:

  • Who can we run to?
  • Who is it that we can trust?
  • Who will be our advocate?
  • Who is it that will put our shattered pieces back together?
  • Who can we rest in to know they will not open the door and leave us in the middle of the night?
  • Again, who will fight for us?

There is great news for us as children of the perfect Father. Because of Jesus, there is no more longing and no more uncertainty.If the blood of the Lamb has washed us, our wounds have been healed solely because of the wounds he was given. Our hurts have been covered. Our worth has been secured. Our lives have been rescued. Our souls have been purchased. We have been fought for and we have been won!

This Great News, this Answer, this Redeemer, this Seed, this Hope has a name.

His name is Jesus.

Jonathan C. Edwards provides leadership & vision to disciple and equip college students at City Church in Murfreesboro, TN. He is the author of the forthcoming book LEFT: The Struggle to Make Sense of Life When a Parent Leaves. Jonathan received his M.Div from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he is currently completing his Masters of Theology. He blogs regularly at NotThePuritan.com