I had played this day out in my head for what seemed like forever. Hypothetical questions would run through my brain. What would I say? Would I be angry? What will his voice sound like? Would he even say sorry? I had spent my whole life without any existence of my biological father and when the unknown number appeared across my iPhone, I knew it was him. Any prior scenario that I had planned in my head was tossed out the window. I knew there had to be a God above because through all the hurt and pain I began to feel at that very second, my love for this complete stranger seemed to outweigh it all.
Will I really forget?
Forgive and Forget. We are all so familiar with this cliché. Honestly, will we ever forget the wrong someone did to us? What if someone raped you? Abused you? Cheated? Or neglected you like I felt my father did to me? Those things I feel we will never forget no matter how forgiving we are. I think about Jesus when he was on the cross, taking on our sin and dying one of the most agonizing deaths so that we could experience true forgiveness. I believe Jesus won’t ever forget that day, seeing the fact he has holes in his hands and feet that constantly remind him. Jesus doesn’t forget, but he doesn’t remember our sins either. Hebrews 8:12 says, “Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Jesus never said that he wouldn’t forget our sins, but instead he won’t remember them. He won’t bring them up again because we have been forgiven. Isn’t that beautiful to know that God won’t throw up past sins in our face? I remember when I was younger I fell off my bicycle. I was trying to do one of those BMX tricks and instead became friends with the pavement. I gashed up my knee pretty bad. Ten years later, I still have a scar on my knee from my bike accident. The pain from that day may no longer be there, but that scar sure is. It’s a constant reminder never to do BMX tricks and is a story I’m able to share. I don’t have to pretend that it never happened, but I can face the fact that it did. I may have a scar there that was once an open painful womb, but it’s healed now. A scar makes you whole again.
Should I be honest?
As I’m learning to forgive my father, I am learning to be honest not only with him but myself. We can get so caught up with hurrying to forgive, that we never actually deal, with how we truly feel. I don’t know where we believers have gotten the idea that showing any emotion besides joy is sinful. It’s not. Think about the adulterous affair David and Bathsheba had and the child that was conceived from this act. I don’t think David’s wife felt joy from her husband cheating. I searched my heart and realized I wasn’t angry with my father, but I was hurt. I was hurt because he missed out on my whole life and would never get those memories back. I had to have a heart-to-heart and confess with my father how I really felt. You too should search your heart and be honest with someone or even yourself. Being honest also allows room for healing. We can spend years thinking we hate someone but in actuality we just long to tell them that they hurt our feelings.
What if they hurt us again?
I was in life group at church one Tuesday night, and the pastor said we were going to discuss forgiveness this particular night. Isn’t God so hilarious? But any who. The pastor told us to turn to Matthew 18:21-22 and he read, “Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” To be honest it was the first time I read that scripture and the expression on my face showed it. Wait, God wants me not to just forgive my father for the one time he walked out, but forgive him again if he walks out 490 times. How dare we question the times we forgive someone when God forgives us daily. Because of Gods unconditional love for us, no matter what we do or have done to hurt him, he forgives. God desires us to be the same way. Unconditional love loves someone when they aren’t loveable. Just as God extends grace to me, I have to do the same to my father. True love trusts the person that once broke your heart.
About two years ago is when I spoke to my father for the first time. It’s been one of the hardest things I have had to work through. As you’re forgiving someone or yourself, know that forgiveness takes time. It’s a process. I remember telling my dad, “I forgive you not for you but for me”. I want to experience all that God has for my life and I can’t do that if I’m holding on to the baggage of him not being there. Remember we forgive because God forgave. Yes, Forgiveness hurts.
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