You may not want to read a Happy Birthday letter from me, but I’m sure you know how growing up works by now; you don’t always get what you want. Birthdays can be full of joy, sadness, or awkwardness, and they can often be a combination of all three. The point is not to be overwhelmed by any one feeling, except for gratitude. Gratitude to God for another year of life and more opportunities to serve Him and glorify Him.
When I first started writing this letter, I didn’t know for sure what to say. At our last meeting, I got a very clear impression that you no longer loved me or the rest of your family. And though I traveled a long way to see you, and was so excited just to give you a hug, you didn’t respond in kind. My love for you and your family’s love for you was not echoed in your eyes or in your actions. But no matter what you think and no matter what you have done, I still love you and your family still loves you, even though love hurts… a lot.
I don’t want to offend you by writing about my pain at the same time I write about my love for you. It would be amazing if you just except that love and let it melt through your bitterness and leave you with brokenness and mirrored love. After all, love left unspoken and unshown is prone to grow cold and to completely die out. And I know that God has not called me to hate you or be indifferent toward you.
For the past two years, I have written happy birthday letters to you on my blog. If you read the previous happy birthday letters, then you would see a distinct shift in my subject line. When I wrote the one, I had not seen you for six years, but when I wrote the other, I had seen you only a few months earlier. When I wrote the first post, I thought myself separate from the conflict, but when I wrote the second post, I had been made fully aware of the spiritual battle I was in and of the poisonous effects of persistent bitterness.
Perhaps you have not read my previous letters, but I posted them anyway, and persist in writing for you, in the hopes that, by the grace of God, the stones you throw at your family would slip out of your hands.
Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words fly farther and hit deeper.
Yet, through all of this, through every injury and slander, your family has kept the faith and persisted in their pursuit of Christ and His glory. The truth is that neither side is beyond growing bitter and giving into hatred, but I have seen enough brokenness in those closest to me to know that their love persists. Their love is such a testament to the grace of God and to the power of His Holy Spirit. Just like Jesus looked upon the crowds and had compassion on them, even from the cross, so your parents look upon you and desire only for reconciliation, for true forgiveness and repentance. And I am grateful that your cold greeting when I saw you last has not caused me to stay in the grave, but I daily rise with my Savior, trusting that cold hearts will soften with the help of the Holy Spirit. None of your family wishes for you to perish, especially not in your sin and rebellion. We continually pray for reconciliation and for a love that mirrors the sacrificial love we have shown.
I have heard that you believe you have been injured and you think that your parents wish for your death. If you feel injured, it has only been an injury of pride. If you truly think your parents wish you dead, then what can I say? How can I reach a heart that fabricates such slanderous lies? Only the Holy Spirit of Almighty God can touch your heart, reveal truth to you, and pry the stones from your hands. So, I pray daily for His intervention.
The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to grow in love for family and brothers and sisters in the faith, and to foster those relationships. Now that you have a child of your own, I imagine you look at him and pray that God would always keep him close to you. But someday, he will reach the age where he must choose for himself whom he will serve and follow: Jesus or sin, God’s way or his way, his parents or his peers. I pray that he will not have a rebellious spirit and will grow to love the Lord with all his heart; persistently loving his parents with a Christ-like love. But I must warn you that children often grow up to be like their parents, so pray every day that your son will grow to be more and more like Jesus. Only prayer can stem the tide of rebellion.
I sincerely wish you could have learned from your own dad’s example. Before Grandpa T died, dad reconciled with him, and they had times of sweet fellowship, even though dad had felt very injured by some of grandpa’s actions and words. And though reconciliation was not made with Grandpa O before he passed away, yet we were all there with him: mom, dad, me, and your brothers. Before the end, I and your oldest brother sang songs for Grandpa O, and dad stood in the room, staying close to mom and persisting in prayer for grandpa.
Though many of my prayers and dad’s prayers have not yet been answered, we will never stop praying. For, where there is great injury, there is also great opportunity for awesome healing and glorification of the name of Christ. Prayer is our only hope and shield in this spiritual battle we face.
In this year of your life, may God use you for the glory of His name. May He surprise you with His grace and wisdom every single day. May the challenge of motherhood never weigh you down, especially when you remember the great patience and grace that your Heavenly Father has shown to you. May this year also bring reconciliation within our family; that joy may abound, that Jesus would hold us together, and that love would finally win. Amen.
If you have questions or topics you want me to write about, or you just want to chat, then send me an email or post a message on any of my pages.