02 Jan Facing Fear
Greg still remembers he and his mom and brother escaping from his father’s home. In the dead of night, his mom frantically threw their most important belongings into a bag, her eyes filled with tears. His big brother, 10 years old, was also crying. Greg wasn’t quite sure what to make of it all, being only five years old. What he did know was that living with his father had always been to live in fear of a beating. But that night, Greg’s mom decided they had finally had enough of the abuse. “We fled for our lives away from him,” says Greg. They slipped from their home, never to return.
For some time, the three floated from friend’s house to friend’s house, in an effort to avoid being found. “One night, my father found us,” says Greg. “He showed up and beat up my mom and tried to take me and my brother by force, until the police arrived.” That was the last time he remembered seeing his father.
Despite their tumultuous past, Greg would still call his father every once in a awhile. Most of the time, his calls would be ignored. When his father did pick up, he made it clear he wanted no relationship with him. “He even went as far as to deny that I was his biological son,” says Greg. The response was upsetting. Greg says, “I felt sad, rejected and confused. He was the one who did something wrong, yet I’m the one being rejected. Why?”
Eventually, Greg gave up trying to have a relationship with his father. “I decided that’s it. I’m done with him,” says Greg. Thirty years passed, and if anyone brought up the topic of his father, Greg’s response would usually be indignation. “I let pride and anger take over,” he says.
Then Greg and his wife Trinja got involved in a life group at Grace Church. Life groups are small, weekly gatherings throughout the south shore where people come together to help each other apply God’s teaching to their lives. One week, their life group began discussing the weekend teaching from Bad Blood, a series focused on letting go of anger and resentment.
After hearing his story, Greg’s friends at life group encouraged him to let go of his anger toward his dad. “At first I felt ambivalent,” says Greg. Then another feeling began to creep in. “I soon felt fear,” he says, “However, having a stronger relationship with Jesus, I knew I had to move forward and overcome this. Thinking about my family and life group friends, I felt encouraged.”
Greg decided to set aside his anger and fear, and even gathered the courage to call his father. “It was very awkward for me,” says Greg, “I didn’t know what the outcome would be or what to expect.”
This time, his father picked up the phone and to his surprise, his father’s voice was much softer. “He acted as though we had just talked last week and he was actually very cordial and pleasant,” says Greg.
They talked about Greg’s life, career, his kids, his brother, and more. “I think the main reason for him being so violent [when I was young] was because he was a heavy drinker, and he began hanging out with the wrong crowd. It just all let him down a bad path,” says Greg. Being able to talk openly with his dad didn’t just feel like closure for Greg, it felt like a new beginning. “Both of us received healing during this process. I feel like the issues have been resolved,” he says, “He’s building a relationship with me and my brother, and he feels included in his grandchildren’s lives.”
The two talk every week over the phone, something he never would have even had the chance to experience had his life group friends not encouraged him to forgive his father. “I feel relieved,” says Greg, “I’m glad to be building a relationship with him and I’m glad I was able to give my children an example of how I had to face something really hard and I trusted God, and He worked it all out. If it wasn’t for life group, I wouldn’t have been compelled to actually do something to change my situation. Being in a group and talking about things gave me an extra push and accountability.”
Want to learn more about life groups at Grace Church? Learn more here!