Well, I must say that today’s Daily Post topic struck a chord with me. I had thought about writing on forgiveness, since Father’s Day is only a few days away, and this is definitely perfect timing.
Why is it so hard to forgive? Pride can make one think that to withhold forgiveness can give them power over the other. In actuality, not being forgiving of others puts oneself in a prison of their own making. Also, some people mistakenly believe that forgiveness means forgetting and going on like nothing happened. For a small infraction, that’s all fine and dandy. But sometimes it’s not that simple.
What do I mean? I’ll use myself as the example and, for a moment, you can peer into my heart.
I am a survivor of child abuse. I’d like to say that I’m a victor, but I know that some “scars” are not fully healed, even to this day. For most of my young adult life I tried not to think about my childhood and skirted by Father’s Day as best I could. I pretended that my father wasn’t around anymore because I considered him dead. I never really worried about having him in my life. Occasionally, I would send him pictures of my son, though I think it was mostly to be spiteful as if to say, “See what you’re missing.” But that was the extent of any contact and when I had a daughter, I then cut off all contact. Life went on.
Then, about four or five years ago, God came back into my life. I had gone to church as a kid and was even baptized, but after the abuse, the foster homes, and the mess of a life that ensued during my teen years, I had decided that there couldn’t be a God. I had managed to make a decent life for myself with a husband, job, kids, the usual, but always felt like I was just spinning my wheels. Well, God had sent people into both me and my husband’s path to bring us back to Him. I still didn’t see a need to forgive my father. He had put me through so much and I didn’t feel he would ever deserve it.
However, continuing to hold onto the hurt and anger only affected me. I doubt he spent (or spends) any time thinking about the past and being sad that I hadn’t forgiven him. I was a prisoner to all my negative thoughts and feelings. I couldn’t relate well to others, mostly out of fear that I would be abused somehow by them as well. Eventually, I began to understand more about what the Bible teaches regarding forgiveness. I realized that the only way I could achieve any sort of healing would be to forgive my father (just as God has forgiven all of us) for his sins against me. I then, somehow, ran across the phrase, “Forgiveness does not, necessarily, mean reconciliation.” You can forgive someone, but you don’t have to immediately reconcile with them. There is a point where restoration may be possible, once trust, boundaries, and other issues are worked out, but in some cases reconciliation may never be possible or wise. Nevertheless, that shouldn’t stop anyone from being forgiving.
I forgave my father, in my heart, a couple of years ago. However, I still didn’t have the courage to tell him. I would think about it when his birthday or Father’s Day would come around, but I would always just let those days pass by and put it out of my mind, still afraid to have any contact with him. Afraid that I would have to deal with all the feelings, fears, and memories that I buried deep away and still keep hidden from most people I know. This year, I have managed to write him a letter, but we’ll see if it ever gets in the mail. I think it would mean more, to me, if I actually took that step and mailed it to him. Dropping the letter into the mailbox as a final symbol of letting go and being able to continue my healing.
You can read a little more about forgiveness at the GIG Devotional site.
What about you? Will you be bold this Father’s Day and forgive someone, maybe even your father, too?