Author’s Note: The following post “Love Conquers All” is a tribute to my beloved father-in-law who passed away last week.
Bright Hope Soaps focuses on the principle of triumph over trials in our artisan work. My road to healing was filled with people who shared love without limits which created a ripple effect. My father-in-law was one such person. As you read this tribute, may you too be inspired to love unconditionally.
Rejection is cruel. But rejection from a parent is the most excruciating form of cruelty. Not only did I experience rejection from my mom but I experienced it in a slightly different form from my dad. He was a drunk and basically drank himself to death. It was rejection by dereliction of duty.
The wounds sustained from this kind of rejection led me to put iron bars around my heart. I vowed to never again allow anyone in a parental role to get close to my heart.
In fact, God willed that I would live the rest of my childhood as a foster child. My foster parents were amazing. But should they ever refer to me as their daughter rage would swell up inside of me. Those were fighting words. I vowed to never refer to anyone as mom or dad. I drew that line firmly in the sand.
It all worked well until the day I met Jon Caudle, Sr. He became my father-in-law. His love for Christ was not superficial. It was astonishingly real. In fact, it was so real he easily reflected the tender love of our heavenly father as he related to me. The grace and compassion he expressed to me broke those bars around my heart. I could not help but call him “Daddy”.
Believe me when I say that is not an easy feat for someone deeply wounded by parental figures. The love he showed me transformed my life. I learned those protective walls around my heart limited my ability to heal, my ability to experience God fully and to share Christ’s love with others. Ultimately, I would stagnate as a person if I didn’t tend to those injuries and learn to receive love from parental figures in my life.
I can’t pinpoint how Jon Sr did it. I only know that he had a way of sharing a heavenly father style love that is hard to articulate. He met me where I was, listened to my heart, my pain, and more than that … he saw me for who I was.
To be frank, when I entered his life, a woman, who marinated in bitterness, had gone before me broadcasting a scandalous version of who I am. I only learned how foul these lies were when I sat at his bedside in hospital four years ago.
He said, “I am so glad that I did not believe what they said about you. You are so precious to me and to God.”
He then began to tell me the extent of the lies. Shock hit me hard that day. I could not believe how far some people will stoop to destroy others. But that is not where the true shock came from. I know if the roles were reversed, if I were him and hearing what he did about me, I would have listened to them and sided with them. I don’t know how this man was able to see past all that. The lies were so well crafted, so purposeful in timing. Yet, God gave him spiritual discernment to sort out the truth from the lies. He gave him eyes to see. This exact gift helped him lead so many others categorized as a “lost cause” to Christ. My respect for him and his devotion to God moved to a new level that day.
You see, had he joined that band wagon. I would have never had the experience of truly being loved and accepted by a father figure in my life. I would have continued to walk around broken and incomplete. My heart would still have bars around it. This is not only true for me. But it is true for my six children. Parenting from a posture of brokenness would have would have a limiting effect. We all desperately needed unconditional love. Sadly, some were bent on making sure we felt the sting of rejection even in our new life. But God had other plans.
The gift of love, grace, and compassion Jon Sr offered me was also beautifully and unconditionally offered to my children as well. Truly, love conquers all. It was such a joy to tell him last week that his love for us helped seven broken people heal. We are different people because of his love. Further, he trained Jon Jr. to reflect that same love. The apple had not fallen far from the tree. Naming him Jon Jr was so fitting.
Because of his unconditional love our chains are gone. We can witness boldly about God’s amazing grace because we have received it through him. He was God’s hands and feet to us after so much brokenness. He has paved the way for us to share unconditional love because Jon Sr displayed that along with his discernment.
I am deeply grateful that God worked through him to reveal the perfect love the Father has for his children. We miss him dearly but we will never forget his incredible love and most of all his spiritual discernment to sort out truth from lies. I pray that we can carry the message that “Love Conquers All” to others that he so beautifully showed us.
Learn more about cultivating discernment by checking out this article.
In loving memory of Jon F. Caudle, Sr
May 16, 1939 – May 27, 2020