Forgiveness leads to freedom
So today on Facebook appears this memory from 6 years ago. The day I met my father for the first time in 33 years. I was 3 when he left. Throughout the years we connected via email through my brother's help and my dad would send birthday and Christmas cards, but that's as personal as it got. So you can imagine my shock when I get this email saying he's coming down to see us. "What?" "Why?" I was confused. He gave me about 2 weeks to mentally and emotionally prepare for this arrival, but it didn't actually hit me until 2 days before. How am I supposed to react when I see him? Should it be this big dramatic tear-filled reunion? What if I don't or can't cry? What is he expecting from me? I am not 3 any more and the only thoughts and memories of him were born from not-so-nice conversations with my mom about how he was a drunk, abuser, unfaithful and abandoned us. So, I'm supposed to be mad right? Wow, I was a hot mess before his arrival. I ended up opening my heart to my Pastor about the confusion I was feeling. My dad can't seriously expect me to run into his arms like a 3 year old. Yet it would really stink if he came all the way down from Puerto Rico to be kicked by his first-born daughter. My Pastor put it so simply for me, which he always does. "Give to your father what God has given to you, no more, no less." Woah! So simple, yet so profound. Wait! I need more than 2 days to figure this one out.
And the plane lands.
So I almost embrace the wrong man, because I assumed my dad would be this big, strong, tall gentleman. This creep seemed way to eager to hug me when he saw me coming towards him, once I realized that that is not the look of a father to a daughter, I stopped dead in my tracks leaving the creepy guy very disappointed and puzzled. Right behind creepy guy is this frail, short man with a cane, "Laurita?" What? this fragile looking man is my dad? Oh my gosh, let me carry your bags, no let me carry you, to the car. Well, he didn't let me touch his bags, man's got pride and boy, is he sarcastic! Now I know where I get it. The next day was just about my dad getting to know the kids and my husband and me just sitting in disbelief that I am in front of my father for the first time in 33 years. Why don't I feel anger towards him?
Already time to leave
The last day of his stay got here way too quickly so I decided to take him to my favorite place thinking it would be a treat for him. Well, for a guy who lives and breathes Puerto Rico, a dirty beach and pier from California is anything but a treat, but we got coffee and walked together just the same. He was the one who brought up the divorce and, oh man, sounded like he had rehearsed all the way over here. He never said one negative word about mom and blamed himself for everything. I couldn't allow him to bash himself in any longer. "Dad, I'm not angry at you for leaving me." The night before dad had mentioned that every night he enjoys staring up at the stars and saying a little prayer to "whoever was up there", his words. "Dad, when you left me at 3 years old, the "whoever is up there" God, became my Father and did a fine good job raising me and I wouldn't change anything that happened". "Dad, I forgive you for leaving me and I love you." He tried to hide the tears but I could tell he was crying. "wow and I was so scared, I was ready for you to let me have it because that is what I deserve!" "No dad, I forgive you, just as God forgives me when I mess up." We hugged and let me tell you.....THE BEST HUG EVER! I found an important part of myself that day. A stronger, more healed me that just witnessed that with God nothing is impossible if we are willing to do things His way. Chains in my life broke that day, even to the point of looking in the mirror and actually liking the woman I saw. One becomes more beautiful when we let go of resentment, anger and hatred. My dad was expecting to get chewed out and insulted and he was going to be willing to take it. He told me he thought he was coming down to allow me to get all of my anger out on him. Instead he received love, forgiveness and grace. Now we talk all the time and he sends me coffee from Puerto Rico!
I want to encourage anyone who is holding on to anger, resentment, unforgiveness. The only person you are hurting is yourself. Forgive and be healed. You are not justifying what was done to you, you are freeing yourself to peace and joy. Unforgiveness is a prison and I want nothing to do with it. I don't know anyone who would volunteer to go to prison, so why do we easily choose not to forgive. There are situations of hurt and abuse that need to be addressed through counseling, take those steps to receive healing and be free to be the person God created you to be.
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