Kathleen Cantwell’s Thin Place: Beloved

Mar 24, 2011Archive

Kathleen offered two letters to her father in an attempt at reconciliation. Read on to find out if they worked. You can also visit Kathleen at her blog, Daily Grind.  (You can share your Thin Place story here.)


In early August 2003, during my routine early morning scripture reading and quiet time with the Lord, I was prompted to write my estranged father a letter. I was almost forty years old and had only seen him once since I was twenty. That attempt at reconciliation was a disaster. I had hopes that introducing him to my infant son would soften his heart toward me. He couldn’t handle years of unresolved guilt and pain, so my feeble try at relationship only pushed him further away.

Nestled in my soft, familiar couch I penned a letter demanding reason and understanding for how a father could value alcohol over a relationship with his only daughter. I was angry, hurt, confused and very bitter about a lifetime of disappointments. I had mailed a similar letter twenty years prior to no avail. Well-meaning people coached me in setting boundaries, I just wanted a dad who would love me and hoped this would prompt him to do so. My accusing letter was returned as addressed incorrectly a week later.

With the letter in hand I cried out desperately to God. Had I not done what He’d asked? I was trying to reconcile, to walk in forgiveness as scripture commanded.

“Please God, speak to me, I don’t understand why you want me to feel this much pain and rejection. I just want to understand.”

Like a gentle breeze brushing against my body, I sensed God move in my spirit and whisper to my heart, “Let’s do this my way, I want you to see your dad through my eyes.”

Bits and pieces of conversations with my dad came to my mind. His family of origin did not love him well. He was sent to boarding school at thirteen years old, and worked as a young intern in Washingotn DC by the time he was 17. He was sexually abused as a boy.

With journal in hand I wrote another letter. Through tears, I spoke of God’s love and forgiveness of my sin, how He had called me to respond in faith to Jesus dying on the cross. I told him I had been forgiven much and that I wanted to forgive him also. I understood he’d had a very difficult life and did the best he could as my father. More than anything I wanted him to know that God loved him and I loved him also. Would he please forgive me too.

In late September of the same year, I received a letter from my dad in response to mine. He began with “My beloved Kathleen,” speaking of his two year sobriety and coming to the Lord. He lived simply, humbly, with very little, but never forgot me. I sobbed in gratitude to God for the gift of forgiveness and knowing I was loved by my dad.

My father died a month later. I never saw him but was given his Bible, which had record of the date he responded to Jesus. I will see him some day.