Forgiving my Father
When I was a child I loved my father: he was the biggest, strongest and best father in the world. I remember waking up every morning and rushing to his room to sing to him my favourite song: good morning Mr Elephant? I revelled in his pleasure at my singing.
As I grew older my relationship with my father deteriorated as he failed to meet my expectations of a perfect father. I became angry with him and in tùrn began to mete out vengeance by acts of rejection. I recall one such incidence when my father came to visit me in boarding school and I refused to see him. This act and many others created such a hiatus that would take many years to bridge.
My anger was not only turned at my father, but I also turned it against God: Why does a good God allow suffering? Why does he allow wicked men to be in power? Why wasn’t there a female element in the trinity? These questions quickly led me in the path of feminism where I acted out my rebellion against the control of a patriarchal society. The only religion I wanted is where the matriarch ruled supreme. For a decade I was stuck in my anger and unbelief, shaking my first at what I regarded as an indifferent God.
Even after I became a born again christian, I unwittingly continued to hold my father at arms length. My reasoning was since I had a perfect heavenly Father I had no need to deal with my bitterness against my father. Albeit this bitterness affected my relationship with my heavenly Father because in some things I ascribed to Him the failures of my earthly father. For example, when I asked God for things, I never really expected God to Grant them to me so instead of waiting on Him I used my own strength and wits to get them.
It was five years after salvation that the Holy Spirit convicted me of my attitude towards my earthly father. I had just written a poem where I had poured my bitter feelings into when insight seeped into my being: I needed to forgive my father. As I wrote a poem,” I forgive you father”, now lost to oblivion, I realised that I had been expecting from my father something he would never become: perfect. The only one capable of perfect Fatherhood was God. He is the only one who would never let me down.
The other realisation that came to me was that I was not perfect: I had expected my father to be perfect, while I continued to be imperfect. If I needed Grace to be shown to me, I needed to extend it to others because one day I would have children who would think me imperfect and would need forgiveness. With mind in the right perspective, I found it much easier to forgive my father from my heart.The Bible is clear that If we do not forgive others, we will not be forgiven: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.( Matthew 6:14-15)
It was a decade after my salvation that my father and I were able to lay the past to rest. As I talked with him about how he had failed me, he graciously apologised. This forgiveness paved the way to having a better relationship with my father. But it also taught me to put my expectations in the right place: in God my Father.
All of us have been let down our earthly fathers and this has hurt us, in a big way or in a small way. The first step to take is to forgive them because they are human. We then need to go to the right source and ask God to heal us, and father us as the lyrics of song say it more aptly:
Faithful Father, father me
No one else could ever be
A perfect father God to me.