“My dad wasn’t around when I was young. It did a lot of damage, and it was very difficult to forgive him.” A large, physically imposing man remarked. The setting was a sunny Sunday afternoon at church, with five men ages 25-45 in a huddle for a serving team I lead. That particular day, I was prompted to talk about forgiveness, and the conversation that ensued was powerful. It was at that moment that I realized – almost all of us need to forgive somebody. Forgiveness is difficult, yet powerful. Let’s look at how and why you should forgive.
The conversation in huddle that day turned towards most of us talking about a wound given to us by our parents. Some, by a current or former spouse. For me, it was given to me when I was young. One of my parents was not around much – but when that parent was around, my sister and I were not treated well. As an adult, I did not think it was affecting me… until recently. I realized that I had deeply rooted issues in my subconscious, and the only cure was forgiveness.
The first step was, for me, was realizing that there was a problem. I used to hear or read about forgiveness in blogs and sermons just like this one. At that time, I was not aware enough to realize that I was precisely the person that message was aimed at. It was not until much later, when soul-searching, that I realized there was a problem. The first step towards forgiveness is realizing there is a problem.
Once I realized that there was a problem, I began taking steps towards forgiving that parent. I prayed for forgiveness in my own heart. I began to try to understand why they acted the way they did – it was at that point that I realized that it was a generational issue. That parent was parenting us in the only way they knew how. In fact, that parent had done everything in their power to try to be different from my grandparents. I began to put myself, as an adult, in that parent’s shoes – shoes that had walked a lot of miles, most without Jesus. The second stop towards forgiveness is praying for forgiveness, and understanding where they came from and why they act the way they do.
It wasn’t some ritualistic prayer that I prayed at 2:39 P.M. every day that set me free from the bondage of forgiveness, it was the occasional prayer, from which God gave me His grace, followed by a conscious effort to not harbor bitterness. Any time I would begin to think negatively, start to blame, or start to make fun of that parent, I would stop myself. I would say something good. I would pray that the root of that bitterness be destroyed. Soon, my thoughts towards that parent became positive. The third step towards forgiveness is to root out bitterness and negative thoughts, and turn them into positives.
Related Post: Forgiveness
Finally, after about a month or so of fighting within my own mind, I was able to find forgiveness, and healing. The fruits were unparalleled – but the biggest reward of all was the effect it has had on that parent. See, forgiveness is not commonly given in this world. Especially the kind of forgiveness that Jesus gave to us – not only did He forgive us for our sins, but he gave us His spirit so that we could serve Him in extraordinary ways. As Christians, when we model that kind of forgiveness, people cannot help but notice and be changed by it. In that parent, a subtle change is taking place. Set free from guilt, they are able to thrive, and make significant changes in their 50’s. I was not the only one set free.