We are told that our first impressions of ourselves comes from our parents. Much of our confidence in what we can or cannot do stems from what is poured into us as children. For those that follow my story know that as a child I was abandoned by my birth mother and sexually abused by my father. My father lived a lifestyle that also exposed me to things that little girls should never have to experience. Over the years the relationship between me and my father was like a roller coaster up and down. I learned from others that my father experienced pain in his life and it has been proven hurt people hurt people.
My father passed away over two decades ago and sometimes it still feels like yesterday to me. His presence was always larger than life and when he entered a room, he lit it up with his smile. He had the power to take your breath away without saying a word. Although I was a victim to his vices, I still loved him. As a child he was the only parent I knew. Having a void in my life with the absence of my mother, I wanted and longed for the love and acceptance of my father. How does a child understand the dichotomy of what is unacceptable behavior and the craving to belong?
When I was in high school my father had a heart attack and my grandmother (who I love beyond measure) told me I had to go to the hospital to see him because they didn’t know if he would survive. As I listened to her words so many thoughts passed through my mind, however, going to see him was not an option and I knew I had to face him. What I did not know was it would not be his smile that would soften my heart, but rather his helplessness and that now he was a victim. A victim to all the things that brought him to this point of being flat on his back. All I remember is telling him that I forgave him for everything he had ever done to me and that I hoped he would heal and get his life right with the Lord.
What I did not know at that time was this would be the beginning of my journey of understanding the power of forgiveness and how it can truly transform someone’s life, family and generations. The journey of healing between me and my father did not happen overnight, and it took several years before we were able to be completely vulnerable and work through our past. We both had to be willing to open up and share our feelings and listen without judgment. During one of our talks my father turned to me and thanked me for forgiving him and that he was grateful for another chance for us to build a loving relationship.
I know some who may read this might not understand how I could forgive my father for what I went through as a child, and yes I know he was wrong in his actions, however, I believe in second chances and although he has been gone now for over twenty years this is my open letter of forgiveness to him on this Father’s Day. It is my hope that someone reading this message will find it in their heart to give someone in their life a second chance through the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean people are excused for their actions when they are wrong, but it does mean being willing to be part of a solution that can build bridges instead of walls. After all, as my grandmother would say, “keep lying down and getting up and one day you too will need someone to forgive you or give you a second chance.” Happy Father’s Day!
Healing Without Hate: It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!
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