Sue Lambropoulos’ heartening story of reconciliation with her alcoholic father.
He had her pinned against the wall as he tried to open the front door, speaking angry words and hurling threats and profanities, as I watched from the stairs.
Dad was drunk again and Mom, as always, was the target of his angry outbursts.
We would listen to how Dad was going to leave, and Mom would tell him to go.
Tonight was different. Mom was going to leave.
The door slamming marked the beginning of their separation.
After my parents’ divorce, I hardly ever saw my Dad. I had no respect for him. I actually despised him.
The kind, gentle face of Glenys, the vicar’s wife, drew me to a local church. Little did I know, at our first meeting, that she and her husband would become powerful role models in my life.
I entered a community of love, forgiveness, and compassion for others, something I had never known before. Belonging to this community affected my thoughts and feelings towards others, including my Dad. I was now hearing about this man named Jesus, who had come to this earth to save us. Though we were all sinners, He was all about love, even loving your enemies.
This changed the way I felt about my Dad, but I still had no desire to be a part of his life.
Dad’s Difficult Life Story
I met my husband, Chris, during a teaching exchange with the University of New Brunswick, and in 1996, I moved to Canada from England.
Before moving away, I spent some time with my Dad, just talking to him about general things. However, on the night before I left the UK, he told me the story of his life. For the first time, I understood something more about my Dad. As a young boy, he had lived through devastating circumstances and was now living out the consequences of that.
I cried for most of the night.
The way I felt about my Dad was changing. I actually began to feel love for him.
I stayed in touch with my Dad. Over the years, I received many letters from him; he seemed to enjoy communicating that way.
I began to pray for his salvation and would often share my faith with him. He would attend his local church from time to time, and would tell me about this, knowing I was interested.
God’s Promise to Me
One day, during a service at my home church, Smythe Street Cathedral, I was at the altar, waiting for prayer, and these words entered my thoughts, ‘Because you have trusted me as your Heavenly Father, I will restore your relationship with your earthly father.’
I initially viewed this as my own thoughts, a reflection of a deep desire within me.
God’s Word to My Dad
Shortly after this, my Dad was diagnosed with throat and lung cancer. He had to go for a laryngoscopy. While under the anesthetic, he had a vivid dream:
‘I was a rider, at the start of a horse race. We heard a gunshot, the horses took off and we jumped a hurdle. On the other side, I fell into a deep drop, about ten feet down. I looked up, and saw a figure, standing there. I believe it was God. I pleaded with him to please let me get up and back in the race’, but he said, “You have fallen too far, too fast.” I begged Him: if you allow me back into the race, I will put things right.’
A Different Ending
Over the next two years, my Dad wrote a different ending for his life.
One day, I received a phone call. Often times, when he called he would be drunk. He’d pass the phone around to his drunken friends to speak to me, which I hated. I sighed when he said, ‘Just a minute. I have someone here who wants to speak to you.’
Then I heard my Mom’s voice on the line.
I was confused. I thought another call had come through on the line, from my Mom.
‘Oh’, I said, ‘I was just talking to Dad.’
She replied, ‘I know, I’m with him.’
I was shocked, amazed, and overjoyed.
My Mom had become a Christian after the divorce. Now, after twenty years, she had gone to speak to my Dad for the first time.
From the moment he woke up from the anesthetic, Dad gave up drinking and smoking and he restored his relationships with his children, grandchildren, and ex-wife.
On my next visit home to the UK, my Dad came with me to church, where I was going to be performing a worship dance. He watched me dance for the first time.
He fought cancer with his family around him and enjoyed as much family life as he was able.
Six months before he died, he came to Canada with my Mom and shared my first child’s first birthday celebration.
The night before Jonathan’s birthday, I decorated his birthday cake with my Mom and Dad sitting around the table with me, sharing stories of the past and laughing with me, as I tried to put about fifty blobs of brown icing onto the teddy bear cake. Dad joked about his eyes being a little lop-sided and we all laughed together, tears rolling down our faces.
At that moment, I realized that this was the father-daughter relationship God had promised me.
As He restored my relationship with my earthly Father, I found the true gift of forgiveness.
Of the Write Your Testimony Course, she says: ‘I am so thankful for the wonderful journey you led us all on. For me, it took me closer to the pain of past memories, but right there, I found the love of Christ holding me and showing me His power and His glory through my little old life.’