Leah and I were having supper with a couple from church this week and as it was the first time we’d all spent time together, we shared our testimonies and bits and pieces from our pasts. The man shared that he had enjoyed an incredibly loving relationship with his dad all the way from childhood until the day he had passed away.
I was kinda stunned and didn’t really know how to respond to that. I think I said something like, “That’s rare.” He nodded, and agreed. I felt so empty and as though I’d maybe done the legacy of his relationship with his dad a disservice. But the reality was, it is rare to hear a grown man talk about the blessing of a loving, nurturing relationship with their father.
Later that night it felt like a heavy weight was pressing into my chest. I thought it might’ve been that platter of fried chicken I’d eaten while at supper, but it was recalling that Father’s Day was this month. I know it’s always in June, but over the decades I’ve tried to skim through it. But why?
I can’t say the same thing as my friend. As a matter of fact, Father’s Day is an annual reminder of the distant and dysfunctional connection I had with my own dad. Even to the day he died, I sat by his hospital bed trying to convince or coax a dying man to say I love you, or even something nice. As in his life, he took those words to his grave and it deepened my pain.
I walked away from my dad’s funeral and promised myself that it was over. No longer would I allow the pain, shame and guilt of a violent childhood to define who I was. I was also determined to stop dominating my family the way my dad treated his. That had always been a constant battle in my life. I’d recognize my natural tendency to act the way he did, and then I’d try to hide it or suppress it.
Ignoring something doesn’t solve it. I had to forgive him. Forgiving others does not mean you approve of what they did or that it’s okay. Forgiveness is for you! Forgiving sets you free from the harm that someone caused to you. You have the key and forgiveness is the act of placing that key into the lock and loosening your chains to their offenses.
Once I forgave my dad, and blessed him by loving him in spite of our past, I began to truly understand who he was and why he was the way he was. It’s not for us to judge our parents. The Old Testament is clear about honoring our mother and father. Even if honoring is by forgiving, that is an honor.
“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you. ~ Deuteronomy 5:16
John Finch has become a dear friend over the last few years and his ministry, The Father Affect, focuses on the father wound. I believe most of us suffer from this type of broken relationship with either our mom, dad or both. The good news is that we can heal through forgiving and be made whole and blessed by our relationship with God the Father.
John’s movie, which talks about his life after his own dad killed himself, is a journey for everyone who’s looking for peace and health in their relationships with their parents or is a parent. He is streaming the movie this month and I ask you to please take the time to watch this – The Father Effect
I’ve been asked how is it that I still struggle with Father’s Day if I have forgiven and been restored by the harm of a painful past. The truth is; there are levels of healing and thanks to God there are also different paths toward being healed. Some people experience instant, radical healing while others require a process to come to completion.
I know that in my process of being restored, my heart remains tender for the experience and that allows me to remain vulnerable to other people who have also suffered from the father wound. It’s one thing to get better and zoom off into a new direction, but it’s a ministry to commit to helping others get through where you’ve been. God has blessed me with a process of restoration so that over these years, I’ve been able to fully relate to others who need a hand up.
If you struggle with wounds from an unforgiven past, or if you realize that your own parenting style isn’t the model God has designed for raising your kids, let’s commit to praying and asking for forgiveness so that God can do His mighty work in our lives.
Praying In Love
Thank you and please know that I am praying for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you who He wants you to reach out to today to show them that you do care and they matter. It’s your choice, and I am confident that you’ll make the right decision.
Much Love and Respect, Scott
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