The picture above was the only one I could find when I was inspired to write this post. Unfortunately, I do not have many photos with my father, and although this photo was taken over 20 years ago, it still reminds me of the pain I experienced in my journey as a daughter, as a sister, and one who battled the vicious attack of unforgiveness and anger for years. With that, I felt that my story of redemption and restoration needed to be shared, so here it is.
The Birthplace of Pain
My dad left our family when I was 8 months old, and he never returned. In our past as a family, there was pain so deep inside of all of us that left us feeling wronged, abandoned, and ultimately very angry. Without blaming the man I have now come to adore, the pain I experienced was shown in these areas of my life; abandonment and anger.
The thoughts that would come to mind everyday for years was that if I was really loved, my dad would have stayed, and as a father he should’ve stayed. I felt that he was such less of a man to leave 4 children and a wife, in poverty and pain. Even as I grew older and understood more, the picture of my father was tainted with pain, and what pained me more was his inability to even want to pursue me.
The Fuel of Anger
I knew in my mind that being upset with this man who said he was my dad was wrong, and I knew it didn’t feel right in my heart, but it became a wall that kept me safe, and over the years, that wall got higher and stronger with every hit of disappointment.
I came across this wall every time I had to face my father, and it also seemed that it would never go away.Every time I trusted him again, I was let down. For every good day, there were more bad ones. All the times I tried to forgive, I would only be hurt again. By the time I was a teenager I wanted nothing to do with my dad and made a decision in my heart that I would not be hurt again, and so, my dad and I lost communication for a few years. I talked to him occasionally and got to see him on certain days, but in my heart, my own dad was dead to me. I couldn’t understand how someone could have a child and cause them so much pain.
Crushing the Wall of Anger
At the age of 18, I found Jesus. My life completely changed, and His presence freed me. Through this life with Jesus, and His Word, I knew that forgiveness was necessary, and that in order to be forgiven, I also had to forgive. In my mind, I knew this concept, but my heart couldn’t fully grasp it. Without even trying to let my heart grasp the beauty of forgiveness, I met with my dad one day and told him I forgave him, only to be met later that year with more disappointment. How was I supposed to forgive this man, and yet, have him continue to hurt me? Here are a few of the ways I learned to crush that wall of anger and unforgiveness:
Allow Jesus to heal the wound of your pain
Before going to a dark place of anger when someone hurts you, let the Holy Spirit comfort you. Jesus not only knows your pain, but His love is so deep, that it heals any wound someone can cause.
Let go of your expectations of what YOU want someone to be
When you impose your expectations on someone, and they don’t meet that expectation, the only person who gets let down is yourself. I expected my dad to be like all of the other dads I had wished I had growing up. I had wished that he would just call me, or that he would somehow express the desire for a relationship with me. When I let go of what I wanted him to be and simply loved him for who he was, I was so much more satisfied.
Release them of their debt to you
Real forgiveness means, that person doesn’t owe you anything. Just like Jesus. The wall of anger would argue and say that since he missed out on my life, he should work even harder now to be in my life. However, now knowing the pain and struggle of my father now, I must ask, “How can a slave give you a reward when they have never even known a reward themself?” I am not giving an excuse for some of my dad’s past behavior towards me, but if my dad didn’t even know love himself, how could I expect him to love me? JESUS is the source of love, not a person.
Redemption & Restoration
It has been 6 years since I had that talk with my dad. Although forgiveness looks different for everyone, my battle with forgiveness didn’t happen overnight. I have had to choose to forgive, every day since then. I was once hopeless even after I let go of my unforgiveness towards my dad, that we would never have a real relationship. There were definitely moments of frustration, and moments I was angry, but I didn’t let myself stay there, I chose to forgive, every time. I believe that because of the constant practice of forgiveness, and also the practice of God’s love, I have been able to finally enter into a place of restoration with my dad. Today, I have a relationship with my dad that couldn’t have been possible without allowing God’s love to be cultivated in my heart.
Recently my dad has become very sick to the place that he says he is on “borrowed time”. His body continues to get worst, and the sickness he has attacks his life in so many ways. I NEVER thought I would be going on dates with my dad, having deep convos, or random hugs. The hopelessness of anger and unforgiveness didn’t allow me to see that God had a promise for me, even though my pain had ravished my life. Today, I cherish him, adore him, and I am thankful that my dad, was chosen, just for me. As long as he is here, I will choose to forgive, I will choose to love him, and I will choose to walk in the restoration God has given to us. Though my heart is pained at times with the thought of losing him, I am deeply thankful for the story I share with him; one of redemption and restoration.