By Adelee Russell
Eight years ago, after a lifelong struggle with addiction, depression, and abusive anger, my dad put a gun to his head and committed suicide. Eight years ago I watched from my bedroom window as a cleaning crew came to try and get the stain of his blood out of the floor.
About six years ago I stood at his grave. In the midst of the deepest depression, I’d ever known. And I asked God with a soul too numb for tears “What hope do I have that I won’t end up right here just like him?”
And God spoke clearly at that moment: “Because the man in the ground is not your father. I am. And because of my Son and His sacrifice, you have the power to choose a different way of life. To choose Me.”
As God spoke those words of hope over me, I looked up and saw a statue of Jesus a few yards away in the cemetery. It was a depiction of the prayer at Gethsemane. Where Jesus prayed for all who would come to know Him. Where He prayed for me.
I heard God say, “This gift of new life is yours for the taking… but you must first leave this grave. You must choose to walk away from this broken legacy and come to Me.
You cannot live both as a victim AND a victor in Christ.
You cannot live both as an abandoned child and a child of God.
You cannot live as a destitute soul and an heir to the inheritance of Christ.
You cannot live as if you are hopeless, and be filled with the hope I give you at the same time.
You cannot live as if you are Fatherless, and live as My beloved daughter at the same time.
You cannot live your old life and your new life at the same time.
You must choose.
You must be rid of the lies.
You must let go of the comfortable places your heart goes to hide, and you must seek refuge in Me instead.
You are still My daughter, and nothing changes that. But you can’t fully experience the freedom I have for you if you keep holding onto the past.
You are not a victim. You are a victor in Christ. And you can overcome anything sinful people do to you.
You are not an abandoned child. Because I will never abandon you.
You are not destitute in your brokenness because I have given you the inheritance of Christ.
You are not hopeless. Because I am your hope. And the hope I give can never be destroyed.
You are not fatherless. Because I am your Father. And I love you more than you can comprehend.
If you choose to hold fast to these truths you will experience new life here on earth.
But if you revert to the old lies, if you let them back into your heart, if you let them feast on your mind, your life on earth will become fractured and fraught with pain and lostness.”
Grieving my past was necessary. Wrestling through all my questions and doubts was necessary. Inviting God into the depths of my brokenness and allowing Him to heal my wounds was necessary.
But once the grieving served its purpose, once the doubts were calmed with the truth, once my bleeding wounds were on the mend I had to make a choice.
I could not live like a victim of my circumstances–fraught with despair and fear at every calamity–and at the same time experience the freedom and strength and perseverance and hope and victory Christ offered me.
1 Peter 1:18-19 says, “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God” (NLT).
In that moment God opened my eyes to the ransom He paid. And the reason He paid it. To set me free. So I turned my eyes from my father’s grave to the image of Jesus. And I walked away.
I walked away from the chains of my past and into the arms of my Savior. And I curled myself up beneath the image of His likeness and I cried tears of joy. His presence comforted my heart and I knew I was safe. I knew I had hope.
Adelee Russell is a freelance writer from Indiana. She lives with her husband, Chris, and they both enjoy exploring old bookstores, hanging out at coffee shops, and talking about Jesus