“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32

I have always been a grudge holder. If you hurt, annoyed, or disrespected me I could go the rest of life not liking you.

But WHY?

It gives that personal too much power over me because I have to adjust my mood and energy when they are around. NOT ANYMORE!

In November I took my first stab at true forgiveness and I had to go to the place it hurt the most. My father. I cannot remember what age it was that we lost a relationship but it was young. I was so young that I cannot recall fond memories. I always knew I needed him. I was always missing something and seeking a certain kind (and amount) of love and I could never quite get it. No matter how many people I surrounded myself with.

My need for him created a hate for him. It KILLED me that he was not the way I wished him to be. I yearned to yell “Daddyyy” when he came in the house. I was furious each time I had car troubles and had to call my mom or had no one at all to call. I should have a DAD to help me with things like that! I would see him. We did not speak. He would walk passed me, I would walk passed him. It was like that - for years. Even thought my siblings maintained a relationship with him. He didn’t like me either. He must hate me to. But I was the kid! It was his job to FIX IT!

Not having a relationship with him created problems for me that I had no idea were connected to my father. It affected my self esteem, relationships with men, and ulitimetly created a deep sense of disappointment in EVERYTHING and EVERYONE, especially myself. I was never loved enough nor was I worthy of love. Not even my father could love me.

I had these thoughts because certainly, a father who loves his daughter would never choose anything over her. He would not hurt her or be absent. He would never walk passed her without being deeply remorseful every time he saw her. He would not dare to find joy in ANYTHING - HOW COULD HE BE ANYTHING BUT MISERABLE???? … he was ‘inadequate’ (in his daughters eyes).

Last summer (2018) I started planning to die. Having cancer twice and suffering through chemo was more than I could bare. I was OVER IT! In those lonely hours with those thoughts of death I began considering what my life truly meant. What was my purpose? Why did this happen to me? What was I supposed to do with it all? Why did God “make me” go through this? Did I do what I was supposed to do with my life? But the most important question came to mind…. What are you afraid of? I answered that question in my head… my fear, of course, is that God is not pleased with me. I was not good enough to save. He hates me. Just. Like. My. Father.

Somewhere lost in those thoughts God had me reconsider. What if God interrupted my “happy” life to create a life filled with joy. No masks. No fake smiles. No lies. Joy. And when I asked God - how I would ever be happy again after all I’d gone through he told me …. forgive.

He did not speak to me in a mythical way… the way some of us think God speaks. He haunted me with the word forgive until I couldn’t escape it. The word showed up on tv, in songs, in conversations, and lastly through my Reiki instructor who asked me after a session to share a word that came to mind while I meditated. Forgive.

I knew it was time. I had been forgiven so I needed to forgive. I thought about it and began to consider.. he did the best he could at the time. He has his own hurts, traumas, and burdens to bare. He was not emotionally available for me and did not have the wherewithal to give me what I needed at the time. I wanted him to save me. To protect me. I wanted a Daddy that loved me in his actions, and not just in his heart.

In November I went to my grandparents house for Thanksgiving (he lives there). When I saw him I said hello and gave him a hug. That was a HUGE step for me. So much so that everyone in my family noticed and commented about it to me privately. After a few days of being there and being cordial through conversation he mentioned that he wished he could hug me but he couldn’t because he did not know how I would receive it. He could not handle the rejection. THAT MAKES SENSE. He ignored me all of this time because he felt rejected by me and chose to hide in his fear of rejection instead of doing the work it took to change our relationship! I got it!

I turned to him after he finished talking and said “I forgive you. Who am I not to forgive when God has forgiven me so many times. You did the best you knew to do at the time.” He wept. I did not. Inside I felt lighter. I had released him from years of guilt but more importantly I freed myself from bitterness and resentment. I had tortured him long enough by being so disappointed. I was really hurting myself. It felt better to LET IT GO!

Each day since that one we have become closer. We call each other. Not often but often enough. He asks me about doctor appointments and updates me on my grandparents. We do not have the relationship either of us imagined but we are doing what works for us and moving slowly. The 38 year old me is allowing the 8 year old me to heal. I thought being bitter was punishing him and it was really me who was suffering. I know that now because each day that passes I feel more free and for the first time in a long time … I hope he does too. There is only one perfect father and his name is El Shaddai, Elohim, Yahweh, Jehovah,… God.