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 | By Theresa Stratford

Finding the Truth is Worth More Than Gold

“The truth will set you free.” How many times have we heard that sentiment? It’s from John’s Gospel (8:32), but there are many other references in the Bible to the importance of knowing the truth. In the Psalms we learn, “The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth” (145:18). And from the first letter of John, “Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth” (3:18).

The message is clear. When we know who we are in truth, we can then be our authentic selves, and we can be set free from wondering and insecurity.

One North Charleston woman finally learned the truth of who she was in her 30s. She describes it as being “as good as gold.” At age 31, just after she’d been through a divorce, Sara Gipson learned an important truth: the man she thought was her father was not after all.

“I was devastated,” she recalled. “I was in denial and didn’t want to believe it.”

She explained that her mother revealed the news to her. 

“She was crying, and I just didn’t want to hear it. I was angry,” she explained. “It was a very difficult time.”

Gipson, who grew up with a brother, also had to come to terms with the fact that he was not fully her biological brother. On top of finding out that he wasn’t her biological dad, she had lived her entire childhood missing the man she always called her “daddy,”  Frank C. Gipson, since he had been an absentee father.

“He left us when I was about seven years old,” she explained. “I only saw him a handful of times after that. I missed him terribly my whole life.”

He left after her parents split up and then lived the life of a merchant seaman traveling the world. Frank would go years without coming home. Gipson remembers longing for her father as a child and around age 7, she asked God to bring her father back by sticking a prayer letter of request into the family Bible, “which was of an average size, and I waited and waited. Still no daddy. Then I decided to go to my aunt and uncle’s house to put my letter in their Bible, which was huge and sat high up on the buffet.” 

The young Sara hoped the bigger book would help her letter find its way to God.

“I was just so sad because I really missed him all the time,” she said. “My father’s absence was treated with awkward silence … It was just not up for discussion. You just knew that daddy was gone. He sometimes sent packages of jackets from Saigon, and he once sent me a pendant turtle watch. Daddy, he’s just somewhere out there in the world.”

It wasn’t until 1994, a year after her mother died, that her father moved to a town only 70 miles away. 

“Not long after my mother’s passing I started to receive the Daily Word devotional magazine in the mail,” she said. “I later found out that it was daddy who sent me that subscription as a gift. He knew that the heartache of loss can only be consoled by the Word of God.”

That was when she and her brother were finally able to visit him on a regular basis. As her relationship grew with the only father she had ever known, she started to wonder about her biological father. It wasn’t until she retired that she decided to search for him. That was in 2009.

After completing a DNA test with in 2017, she was able to make the connection to her biological father, Charles W. Washington.

“I can still remember the first time I heard his voice when he called me back,” she said. “It’s a feeling you can’t explain.”

She traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, with her son to visit Washington in 2018, and from then on, she had two fathers — the one she grew up thinking was her real father and who she connected with at age 39, and her biological father who she met at age 63.

“Not only was the meeting great for me, but it was also great for my son who got to meet his biological grandfather,” she added.

Being able to speak with her fathers and learn the truth about her upbringing was enlightening and freeing for Gipson. She said she would never judge the choices her mother had to make at those times.

“She did what she thought was best at that time, and I respect her for that,” she stated.

Both of Gipson’s fathers passed away within six months of each other in 2022. She believes that learning the truth about her history and her life, albeit at later ages, has truly helped her move on and accept the hardships of the abandonment issues she dealt with as a child.

“God takes care of all his babies no matter the circumstances. Truth is worth more than gold. Knowing the truth means everything,” she said.

She and her son now attend family reunions on her biological father’s side and on her mother’s.

“My family has now grown from reunions of 300 plus on my mother’s side to another 300 plus on my father’s side,” she exclaimed.

For so many years, Gipson said she didn’t know who she really was. Although overwhelming at times, finding these family members has given her so much clarity.

“I was a little girl begging God to bring my daddy back and had no idea that I had two,” she said. “That little girl has been healed in many ways because of this gift from God. Truth is a gift, just to know the truth and to embrace all of it in love. I also know that heartfelt love for a father — whether by way of adoption or biological — is the same. I loved my daddy and yes, I loved both for the brief times we did share. I thank my heavenly Father for this amazing gift of truth.”