Picking Up the Pieces When a Parent Leaves

Chap Bettis | September 23, 2016


Fathers make impressions on their children for both good and ill. By our presence or our absence, whether emotionally close or distant, we shape our kids.

But we can be oblivious to our impact. If only a child could articulate in adult words what he or she feels as we interact, it might break through our dullness.

This is exactly what Jonathan C. Edwards has done in Left: The Struggle to Make Sense of Life When a Parent Leaves.

Edwards—director of curriculum for Docent Research Group—takes us on his journey from childhood to manhood as he reacts to his father’s abandonment and the resulting holes, messiness, and disorder in his life.

Crushing Abandonment 

Edwards employs metaphor to great effect by describing days as shovels. Dates like his dad’s birthday or his wedding anniversary are shovels that unearth the past: “Certain days dig up all kinds of things.” To understand this painful excavation project, we must reach back to July 1993, when Edwards was 7. We’re sitting in Edwards’s living room with his brother and sister as they hear the haunting words that Mom and Dad are splitting up “for our good and for our well-being” and “just for a season.”

But the emptiness isn’t good, and…


To read the rest of this article, visit https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/book-reviews-left.