87: Saying Father and Meaning It

In this episode John and Gregg discuss a very unusual ‘listener’ email.

When Gregg was 22 years old his father killed himself, his son (Gregg’s younger brother), and two young parents in a car crash. Gregg’s father was traveling 100 mph in a 50 mph zone and was legally drunk at the time, and so was unquestionably responsible for these four deaths.

In this same regard, Gregg recently received a warm, gracious email from one of the children of the parents that Gregg’s father killed. John and Gregg discuss the impact of receiving this correspondence and Gregg’s reflection both on the events of the past and their implications now.

Gregg explains a few of the major impacts of the accident and how he is reflecting on them differently, following this correspondence. On the one hand, Gregg explains that he has realized that his intention to “be a better man than his father” is something that he has been straining toward too hard. In fact, Gregg now finds himself able to acknowledge that in terms of many of the steps that he took even while his father was still alive (such as identifying potential issues in his own life, determining how to address these issues, and then actually addressing them) he had already achieved that goal. This realization has proved liberating.

Next, Gregg explains his sense that relative to the accident he left certain important steps untaken, such as viewing the police report of the accident. As Gregg unfolds some of the importance of this for him, in terms of being a detail-oriented person who examines information closely, he also realizes that viewing this report (and potentially seeing the photos of his charred family) will have a very difference impact upon him now.

Specifically, Gregg notes that his relationship with God is very different now than what it was. This relationship will not ease the pain or reduce the insanity of the event (nor blunt the impact of Gregg’s father’s utter selfishness is committing this act). Rather, this new relationship with God means that when Gregg finishes and closes the file, the matter remains in its proper place. In other words, this situation does not have have the “final word” in terms of who Gregg is / have the power to define Gregg’s identity.

This is much different than the result that Gregg would have imagined in past, and Gregg connects this result to his relationship with God by underscoring that his tendency to address God as “Father” is not based on habit or good Christian practice or theological acumen. Instead, Gregg calls God “Father” because he means it—because this is actually how Gregg views the relationship, with God actually being Gregg’s true father.

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