How Can We Mend Broken Relationships?

By Allyson R

My relationship with my dad has never been strong. We’ve lived in different states since I was a baby. We don’t know each other very well because I only go to visit once every one or two years due to the divorce that my parent’s had when I was young.

My father called on holidays and I felt obligated to call on his birthday. I would receive an annual birthday card and that would essentially be the only mail I would see for another year. We’ve never known about each other’s talents or hobbies and, to be completely honest, I’ve never felt a desire to have a personal relationship with him. We have completely opposite morals and standards. When I went to visit I felt like our relationship was fake and forced. I just didn’t feel like he filled the role of an exemplary, caring, involved father that I had hoped for as a young girl.

One day I was observing a close friend of mine interact with his family. The kind of love that he had for his family seemed nearly tangible as they interacted with each other. I had never witnessed this kind of relationship before! It really made me evaluate what my life would be like if I had that same kind of relationship with my dad. At first I let myself daydream but quickly became confused as to why that thought would enter my mind. Why would I want to get involved with his life? Wasn’t it his responsibility to mend the relationship? I felt like I was just looking for unnecessary drama. However, I let that little curiosity grow until it became a real possibility. I knew that it would be hard and maybe even disappointing but I wanted to experience that kind of relationship and joy that my friend had with his children. The desire to sincerely love my dad had finally sparked within me!

Shortly after I realized that I had no idea what to say to him. I was very nervous as to what his response might be. I couldn’t bring myself to call him so one day I sat down and wrote a simple letter. I knew that by writing a letter I could be bolder and truly express my feelings toward him. It was really difficult for me to humble myself and hold tight to that feeling that sparked the idea of forming this ideal father-daughter relationship. I told him that I wanted to get to know him and that I eventually wanted him to be a bigger part of my life. I made it clear that I was willing to work for our relationship if he was.

I wasn’t expecting a letter back, but a week later one arrived in the mail. I’ve received letters from him before but I’ve never been as excited and anxious to read them as I was for that letter. It wasn’t full of apologies for not being there for me and it wasn’t full of loving encouraging words, but it was progress. It showed that he was willing to work with me in building this relationship.

Through this process of exchanging letters I’m really coming to understand the meaning of “unconditional love.” It is the kind of love that truly is not set upon certain conditions; the kind of love that God must have for his children. I try to imagine how He does it. I make so many mistakes, yet He forgives me so easily. He doesn’t require me to be perfect or sinless. God doesn’t say “When you are perfect, then I’ll be there for you.” He’s constantly there and His love and forgiveness is without terms or conditions.

I realize that if I want a relationship with my dad, I have to learn how to forgive him and love him the way God loves and forgives me. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easy. It’s actually still a struggle for me to know how to mend our relationship. It’s still hard to let him in, but I’m learning with every letter how to truly love him; how to accept him the way he is, flaws and all. It is taking a lot of humility and a great deal of patience, but I know that as I actively seek to better our relationship and have Godlike love, our relationship will flourish. I know that as I keep a positive attitude and do my part, I will be successful; no matter what the outcome might be.

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