Seventeen-ish months of silence. That day in July began it all, and a day in December ended it.
Seventeen months of absence. Seventeen months of wondering. Seventeen months of trying to believe on my part.
Seventeen months where my oldest son believed, prayed, and hoped, even when I felt like giving up, and even had given up from time to time.
Before that day in December, when the silence was broken, I had begun to wonder if my children would see their dad again in this lifetime. My mind would wander and I would contemplate what I would do if I had heard through the grapevine that their dad had died. Would I take them to his funeral? Would it be worth it? How would I help my daughter learn about her dad? What would I tell them about him later in life?
Yes, that's where I was at.
And every night, my six year-old would pray that God would protect his dad and help him to make good choices. He would hopefully ask that someday, they would see their dad again.
Honestly, I've been nervous to let this secret out of the bag, because I'm sure it could be a controversial topic, but I feel like it's time to swallow my nerves and just be honest. I know God is telling me it shouldn't matter what others think, but my human nature gets me sometimes.
I've been keeping the secret for a couple reasons. The first being that I wanted my children to have the privacy, and our family to have the freedom to see what unfolded without feeling the pressure of society or social media. I didn't want or need the countless differing opinions on the matter, and needed to just pray it out, seek God's guidance, and go with what I believed he was leading me to do.
I was also a little scared. I didn't want to admit that I was being cautiously brave and believing life over death in this situation, and then have it all fall apart in a couple of weeks.
If people had come to me questioning how things were going, or flat out asked about the situation as it had been, I was honest, and I told them this secret, asking them to keep it to themselves. I thank those of you who have upheld that promise and allowed my children the privacy and time to walk through these last few months.
And for others, I'm sorry if I have offended you by not telling you about this development. But, I hope you can try to understand and respect my decision.
As I was saying, in December he broke the silence. I had given up on trying to get ahold of him, and had tried to put on a positive face for my children when they continued to pray for a reunion and God to help their dad make better choices. I had been through Cleansing Stream, and despite what I believed I could do, and what popular culture would tell me to do, I forgave the unforgivable.
It was perfect timing, in some ways, when he waited until December to break the silence.
I prayed long and hard afterward (I blogged about it weeks ago, without much detail), and believed that, although many would call me crazy, or stupid, or tell me he shouldn't be allowed to, that it was okay for him to see his children again.
I don't have to explain why I chose this, but I'm sure many will wonder. Why on earth, after all that had happened, after all those months, did I let him see the kids? I talked with him in depth for quite some time, met up with him without the kids, talked some more, and made my decision.
Because he is their dad.
People would say he has no right to see them after all that happened. Legally, that's true. The children are 100% mine legally.
But he is their dad.
In my heart, I knew I couldn't look my children in the eye someday, after he had been gone so long, and admit to them that, had I chosen to not let them be reunited, I would have been the thing to keep them apart even longer. I didn't need the blame for that.
It had already been so long. My daughter didn't really know him. She would look at photos of him and not call him daddy, and the boys would get irritated. She didn't remember him, really. But the boys, they still had that longing desire to have him in their lives.
And here he was.
Perfect? No. Did it make everything that had happened okay? Certainly not. Did it erase the pain? No.
Did it give the potential for greater healing?
After consulting with a few professionals on the matter, and praying of course, I knew that the only way to allow healing and restoration, was to give their dad a chance to try. Yes, he could have been lying and just trying to fill a temporary void over the holidays. But, I couldn't know that. Just like I couldn't know if it was for real, and God was really leading him back to his kids unless I gave him the chance to be with the kids. I couldn't give this a chance for success without giving it the chance to fail, but I couldn't live with myself knowing that there would be no chance at all.
I had to really, truly give it to God.
And I did.
It's still fresh and new. There are still details we work out as we go along. I am in control of the situation, the visits, everything. It is all under my stipulations and schedule. There are many details that I will not go into, but, after three months, I truly believe I've made the right choice, as vulnerable as it made me feel, as terrified as I was for my children.
I believe, as does my son, that God was answering months worth of prayers.
We are still praying for their dad as we maneuver this new road in our path.
It can and likely will get messy and confusing, and there will be countless questions from the children as time goes on. But, I have to believe that God will guide us through them as they come along.
Because, as our story has shown in so many ways, God has been here alongside us this entire time. He's taken our pain and brought joy. He's taken the mess and brought so much beauty. He's taken the brokenness and restored our hearts.
He is so good.
And, I have to believe that He will continue to be good and perfect, no matter how these chapters pan out.
Because He's unchanging. He's sovereign. He's perfect. He will never leave us, even if everything fell apart again.
I am sure there are many reading this who vehemently disagree with my choice. I've encountered that already. I pray that there are those out there who understand, and that regardless of how you personally feel about it, you can trust that I am doing what I truly believe is best for my children. I've always had their best interests in my mind, from the moment the world started crumbling. They're my treasure, and I would do everything I could to protect them from pain, but I can't sacrifice their chance for healing and joy with their dad.
There may be heated and controversial opinions. I know. There are countless people out there who care so deeply for me and my children, and who are so angry over the pain we've been through. I get it. I was there too. We are so blessed that we are cared so deeply for that people have such strong emotional responses across the spectrum. Regardless, I pray that anyone who hears my children speak about seeing their dad will be respectful of their excitement in the story, non-judgmental in their presence, ad just give them your love and support.
Thank you to everyone who has been there for us through any and all of the legs of this journey. Thank you for the prayers you've prayed, the tears you've wiped away, the hugs you've given, the words of encouragement, consolation, humor, compassion, and everything else you've given us.
(There are MANY posts leading up to this one. If you're new to my blog, feel free to search through by topic, or start scrolling backward to 2014.)