Father’s Day is a little less than one month away, I felt inspired to share. I spent years struggling with this time of year. The words I used for the title of this post were actual words sent to me in an email from a stranger who had heard about my father’s passing. His death was unexpected. I was thankful for those words, they were comforting to me.
Dad was found dead in his home by police officers in Nevada. He was 72 and he lived alone. Apparently he had been there a few days. I live in Southern California. I’ll never forget the dreadful phone call that came on that Wednesday evening in September 2010. The voice on the other end was a strange man’s voice. I remember him saying those few words—the worst that anyone could ever have to hear over the phone: “I’m sorry to tell you this, but your dad…” I think I stayed silent for a little bit there. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
This may sound like a sad story, it starts out that way, but there really is a happy ending to it. My dad broke my heart when I was 16 and I wasted over 20 years being angry, hurt, bitter…all the emotions a person goes through when they feel abandoned by a parent. I remember going through life feeling I was robbed because I didn’t have a dad in my life like most of my friends and relatives. I know it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was if I had known my Heavenly Father, but I didn’t. I remember watching others enjoy time with their dads and I used to dream that was my life. I used to wonder what it was like. I used to cry so many times because I saw that I was missing out on so much. I lost so many years with my dad because I really didn’t want much to do with him after I had become an adult. It was too late in my mind for him to try to be there now.
I thought I had forgiven my dad a few years back but it turned out I didn’t. The best thing I ever learned about forgiveness was that it is a decision, not an emotion. I learned to work on it every single day. I even went to a healing retreat at church because I was desperate and determined to learn to truly forgive. I also needed healing. I was a fairly new Christian. I wanted so much to please God so I knew I had to do my part to be able to overcome this. It also scared me to know that God wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t forgive others. That was my biggest motivation. I was determined to work on this no matter how long it was going to take. No matter how difficult it was. I’m grateful to God for putting people in my path to help me learn to do this. I discovered that forgiveness is for the person that needs to forgive. When we don’t forgive, we are drinking poison. We are only hurting ourselves. People actually get physically sick from carrying bitterness and unforgiveness inside. After a while of working on this, I could feel the difference. God was healing me. I forgave my dad and this time it was for real. I even found myself telling him I loved him and I meant it! I hadn’t been able to do that in years! I finally had complete freedom!
Forgiveness came only three months before Dad died. I see now how God worked this all out perfectly (like He does with everything). I was so happy to know that my dad had accepted Jesus. God knew my dad was going to be going home soon and He helped me to forgive him before it was too late. I admit that I may still feel a little sad every Father’s Day. I wish I could have had more time with my dad, but I am grateful for the few good months God gave us. The best part of all of this is that I now have a wonderful relationship with my Heavenly Father. He is the One I celebrate on Father’s Day.
I pray for those who are having a hard time with forgiveness. I was there. It’s not a good place to be. I encourage anybody who needs to forgive to just make the decision to do it. Do your best to keep the emotions out of it…that will help you. Ask God to help you and He will. Don’t drink the poison like I did for too long. It will make you sick and can kill you. You never know when it’s going to be too late to forgive someone, don’t wait to find out. Forgive and be free and be blessed!!