My prayer is that this story and my experience will help bless others who have carried the wounds of their Father’s with them for a long time and how God alone is able to heal the scar tissue of these broken relationships. Only He can mend, heal and restore the pain and use it for good. Here are the steps I refer to as I share my journey to healing and forgiveness from the wounds of my father.
Pray- God is a God of completion who never wastes anything. He is a God of reconciliation and renewal. We welcome him into this space and pray He would give me the words to speak into people’s lives who need to hear this message. Amen.
Intro- For some Father’s Day is the greatest day of the year, but for many, it brings up painful and tough memories. Many people did not have a dad or a relationship with their dad that they wanted. My story is the latter, but it is about what God did through my pain to bring healing, forgiveness and reconciliation at some levels and I hope it speaks right to your heart, for as long as we still have time on the clock, we can be confident that God can mend if the biggest wounds.
- Pain- Dad leaves at age 12- Dad was hero- suddenly fearful. No affirmation and no self-worth. Cannot fake showing up. Dad said he would be there, but dad would not be there- led to even more brokenness and pain. He supported my new stepmom’s kids more than he did me and my brother. Why? Why wasn’t he there for us- what was lacking.
- Coping and survival mode kicks in and from age 13-37 I was a person just trying to cope with life. We did not have faith, so I had nowhere to turn other than to things that would anesthetize my pain- marijuana, alcohol, sex, gambling – you name it. No resolution was forthcoming- my dad was riddled with false pride and his own issues, and I had nowhere to run, because I did not know God- so I ran to whatever would ease my pain. While I continued to “perform” for the world, inside I was an empty soul. No contentment made up happiness, self-loathing was a common feeling.
- Age 37- I meet and start dating my neighbor- who is now my wife. She tells me about coming to church with her sometime. I have no idea- I go to sports bar to watch Buffalo Bills, she goes to church. One day I decide to join her, and I had no idea but on that day everything changes. The Pastor was on stage speaking, but it was Jesus tugging at my heart. He told me He was my Heavenly Father, that He loved me, and that He had been waiting for me my whole life. I broke down in tears at his acceptance of me- for the first time I felt real worth. I was overwhelmed with join in learning scripture that taught me how God loved me that He sent Jesus to die for my sins, that I was His child, Beloved, that He knew everything about me. That he had always been with me, had never abandoned me and that He wanted what was best for me. And then, he spoke to my heart and said I need you to forgive your father. I said what? He needs to apologize to me! How can this be? He said you are angry and rightfully so, but the burden you have been carrying is to heavy a load and it will crus you. In your anger and bitterness, it’s as if you are drinking poison and hoping your father gets sick. This is what is best- forgiveness! Well, that night I wrote a 12 page letter forgiving my father for ever thing I could think of that had made me so mad and held me in bondage and when I finished and sealed it in an envelope, I felt like a 25 year weight the size of a grand piano had been lifted off my back. It was so cathartic. I was finally free from my pain and anger and bitterness. I had been waiting my whole for this, searching for it in all the wrong places, so when I got done, 25 years’ worth of tears came streaming out. I felt so much lighter and less burdened. It was the best day of my life. The day my life being a new. I look at my life now as P.C AND AC- Pre-Christ and after Christ and boy do, I like the after Christ better! I no longer had to run away from my pain, I could now run to the love of Christ, my Lord and my Savior, He was always and is enough for me.
- As I began to grow in my faith, I had a deep appetite to learn as much as I could about Jesus and the Gospel. I remember how everything truly felt new in my life, I was truly a new creation, the old was gone, the new was here. I would try to read a few pages of the Bible a day at first, but it did not always make much sense. I tried to surround myself with mentors like Pete McKenzie, and I tried to learn how to pray. I quickly realized that God honored my attempts to pray, no matter how feeble they seemed. I learned the power of repentance. In fact, one-night I just asked God to reveal all of the hidden sin in my life and to bring it into the light. To my surprise, the session lasted around 3 hours, but again at the end I felt so much lighter, again like a huge weight had been lifted off my back. I have come to love the idea of God as the One alone who can remove my burdens and redeem my pain. I began to reach out to my father more and tried to explain the newfound faith I had. While I tried to share it with him, and asked if he had received my latter, he said he didn’t really understand it, but he was glad I had forgiven him if he had hurt me. Sin will do that- make us blind to the pain we are causing to other people if we are not aware. I continued to let go of my past, stop using marijuana that same day and it has now been 18 years and I am so glad I no longer have to run from something in my past, but now can run to someone who is always there to meet me right where I am and I can find the answers to any of my problems in His word. It truly is a treasure; it is just up to me to open it each day and explore all it has to offer- the answers to every question in life.
- Well- soon after this experience at church, I asked my neighbor to marry me. We were married in February 2005, and in December 2005 (you do the math) we were overjoyed to receive our first child into this world, a little baby boy named Max. 21 months later we had our daughter Emma. I was so grateful that God had given me a chance to be a dad, to two lovely children, and I vowed to eb the best day I could, to make up for all the pain I had felt when my dad didn’t really seem to have time for me. That has been a big lesson to me as a dad, is that there is nothing more important that spending time with our kids. Time is the greatest gift because it lets them know they are a priority in our life. We spend time with what we value and prioritize in our life. Alignment matters. God, family, country and then everything else seems to work best for me. We can’t fake showing up- if we promise to be there, then we need to move heaven and earth to be there. In being a Dad, I have seen how God wastes nothing. There is no experience in my life that I can look back on now and see how it isn’t be used to help me be a better dad and person. Sometimes the tapestry of our life looks messy, but God is weaving the most beautiful tapestry and each of our lives has incredible value and worth because we are each a piece of His grand puzzle. Like how Joseph forgave his brothers and God redeemed all His pain and made Him in charge of all of Egypt under Potiphar, I have also come to see how Romans 8;28 can work in practical ways in our life. He uses all things for good that put their trust in him in the long run. He is a God of love and redemption and reconciliation. Although, I do not know if my dad ever received Jesus into his heart as Lord and Savior, I do know he let me pray for him a few times before he passed from this earth. I am grateful that God took away all the pain from my broken relationship with my dad and gave me a chance to be the dad to my children I never had. What an amazing, miracle working God we serve.