My Fathers’ Forgiveness

Forgiveness & Rememberance

Image by alex drennan via Flickr

Forgiveness is the beginning of love. —Mother Teresa

In his 43 short years, my father was a walking example of forgiveness. He was part of my life for fourteen years and I cannot remember him every criticizing another person. Ever. I witnessed several examples of slights, disrespect and plain abuse of which my father was a victim. But, whether it was the product of an acquaintance, a supposed friend or a family member, he remained silent. Even upon questioning him regarding these instances, he defended the offender. A common reply was, “They don’t know no better, they’re just unhappy.”

My father was one of the happiest people that I would ever meet. I believe he was so happy because he was wise enough to know that most insults were not reflections of what someone thought about him, but rather what they thought about themselves.

Even though I had prayed to God, begging Him to let my dad live, he was taken to heaven on January 16, 1985. Being very close to my dad, this was a huge blow. Top that with being a relatively new Christian and with puberty, it was catastrophic to my new faith. I was so sure that God would come through for me and was unbelievably devastated that He had said no.

My strongest memory at my dad’s funeral were my family members telling me that it was okay to cry. I even tried to cry, but couldn’t. Looking back on it, I think there must have been some numbness and shock that factored in to this, but the primary emotion that I was feeling was deep, burning, seething anger. I was so angry with God that I denounced Him. I told Him that I no longer wanted anything to do with Him.

Needless to say, this lead to a very eventful time growing up as an angry, rebellious teenager and young adult, creating a severe cycle of self-loathing, acting out toward others, and then more self-loathing. But our Sweet Savior, being the happiest Father in the world, had no problem pursuing me and loving me no matter how I treated Him. Thank you Lord! Events in my life eventually brought me back to my knees, forgiving and more importantly, asking for forgiveness. It’s amazing what the forgiveness of God can do to change your attitude toward others and toward ourselves.

I’ve learned over and over again that it matters way more about what God thinks about us than what other people think. When you remember this, the insults and slights from others don’t matter very much. It results in sympathy toward their life and their view of it and allows you to remain largely unaffected by their abuse. Therefore, a much happier person.

Record numbers of people showed up at my father’s funeral. Everyone loved him and had wonderful stories and memories of him. Many people talked about how happy he always was. I know it was because he forgave, and more importantly, he was forgiven.

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