How to Start Forgiving This Fathers Day

After weeks of counseling at the camp in Canada, I realized I had serious issues with my parents. My anger and unforgiveness was directed almost exclusively towards them. It was during this time the rose colored glasses cake off and I became aware that my dad was the one who had hurt me the most. I started to suddenly see that he made selfish decisions that affected me deeply.

My Unknown Future Became Known

During that summer in Canada, I was being conditioned at every minute of every day to take ownership and accountability for my actions and choices. Through the staff and the structure of the program, I was forced to recognize and accept the natural consequences and how everything I did affected me and the people around me.

Soon, I found out that I wasn’t going home after the summer was over, but to another part of the program in Indiana for the school year. I was confused and felt tricked and lied to by my mom. Many of my friends found out they were going to Escuela Caribe. The sister program located in the Dominican Republic (DR). We had heard the horror stories of digging pits, running “casitas” up a huge hill. From my understanding, many of the allegations of physical and emotional abuse came out of the intensity of the DR program.

Unrealistic Expectations

I had expected him to be a father who would recognize his own shortcomings and how they hurt me, and learn from them. Somewhere subconsciously I wanted him to provide boundaries and discipline and consistently. I needed things that he could not give. He was the fun dad. He wanted to chill, hike, explore, play at the park, draw, paint, and watch movies. All my favorite things as a kid to do. So why was I not satisfied with what he could offer? Because fun wasn’t enough anymore. I didn’t need fun anymore. Fun wasn’t fun anymore.

I have carried that with me all this time. The person who I am tries to force things to be resolved. I like to have resolution and closure. Unfortunately, I often try to force this in situations where the other person doesn’t reciprocate or isn’t ready. God does not want us to live carrying around a heavy weight of hurt and unforgiveness.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Https://Www.Biblestudytools.Com/Ephesians/Passage/?Q=Ephesians+4:31-32

Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV

When I demanded apologies and a confession of guilt, I didn’t get one. I do believe my father felt badly about what the end outcome was and how it happened. However he didn’t feel like it was at his fault or his doing. He wasn’t sorry for what he did. Believed he was justified in it and blamed the government and “the system”. He also made it clear that he didn’t feel he had any ownership of my feelings or situation.

How can you move forward in forgiveness today?

It is not an instantaneous one time decision to forgive. It’s not a sudden change in feelings towards the person or what they did. The more I learn about love and forgiveness, the more I learn that my feelings ARE A LIE. They cannot be trusted or acted on, because in a minute, they will change again. I have to focus on the person I need to become to be healthy and successful.

First, understand that it’s not all about you. It may not even have anything to do with you. I’m my situation my dad believed the choices he made should not have affected me at all. He did not see accept much of the hurt I had was a product of his life choices. I do also believe that each person should own their actions and response to being hurt. That we can choose to overcome and not act in response to our hurt.

Think Outside of Yourself

Emotional abuse occurred in my fathers childhood that I will never understand. I am not in his shoes and can’t understand his experiences and what he went through in his life. It’s easy to say “I would never…” when it’s not you in the situation. Not everyone can handle the same way

Everyone reacts differently to life’s pressures. Stress and pressure lead to fear. Fear can lead to panic and poor judgment.

People make decisions that they wouldn’t again but started down the wrong path and continued on it. Perhaps feeling it was too late to turn back, or not knowing how.

Allow Yourself to Let Go

Holding on to this has eroded my happiness for years. When you think of it, change your thought pattern to anything positive that came form the experience and redirect bitterness to gratitude. 

This article from Psychology Today on How to Forgive When it Feels Impossible talks about forgiveness being a self-honoring behavior. The first step in taking care of yourself and your own healing.

Create an affirmation for when you feel the anger, resentment and unforgiveness riding in you. Here’s mine:

I will not be the person who holds the grudge and lives in resentment.

I can not control other people or their decisions.

It is not reasonable or realistic of me to expect people to be who I need them to be.

I don’t have to live under the weight of other people’s mistakes.

I can be successful and healthy despite everything that has happened.

The Consequences of Unforgiveness

If you don’t deal with anger, resentment and unforgiveness it can turn into health issues, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Just like mine had.

Throughout the next year in Indiana and the years after, I had people come into my life who filled the void of a father. They showed me I could still love and value a father who couldn’t be the person I needed him to be.

No More Separation

My dad going to prison caused a separation in our relationship that has never been repaired and may never be. I misunderstood that a relationship with God worked that way. When I had messed up so bad, it could not be restored. I was wrong. Nothing can separate us from our true father. He has never failed me. He opens my eyes to forgiveness, new starts, and restoration of all that was lost.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39 New International Version (NIV)