saying goodbye

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When we move to Sacramento to join the Greens, life gets uncomfortable quickly. Not the friendly gatherings I’d hoped for. Within a few months Jim, Lila and Steve decide my daughter Sarah (then 11) has to go live with her father who the day before served me with papers for visitation rights. Steve had said to him, “You’re not her father anymore.” Rick’s only sin is loving his daughter, he only wants his father’s rights of connection. But his influence they say is “worldly, and he’ll spoil her, and it’ll harm her and all the other children, too.” 

A few weeks after Sarah leaves my 13-year-old daughter Iantha (Rebekah) is put to the test. She’s close to my mom whom we thought we’d see more of when we moved to Sacramento. But one night at a meeting, Steve and the Greens tell her that grandma and grandpa are also “of the world, and she needs to choose between us or them. She says she wants to live with us. Steve thinks she needs her faith tested. “I want you to go live with them for a month,” he says, “and then you decide who you want to live with, us or them. You can’t have it both ways.

I stand up, take Iantha’s hand, and say, “You can’t do this to my daughter.”

Everyone’s quiet. The ride home is quiet. Nate has the sniffles. After the kids are in bed, Steve releases his anger. “Don’t you ever embarrass me like that again, do you hear?  We’re here to do the Lord’s work, and if you don’t want to be a part of what Gods’s doing, then you and the children can all go live with your mom and dad.” I’ve never seen him angry like this. I was 35 years old and two months pregnant.

So Iantha lives with them for a month then calls us and says she wants to come home. To Steve her decision isn’t evidence enough of her commitment, and as soon as she’s home he says to her, “Put the stuff your grandmother bought you in this box, and in the morning we’ll go to the post office and return everything. And I want you to write your grandmother, and tell her you’ll never see her again.”

Iantha’ letter:

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