My parents separated when I was very young, and I grew up as the child of a single mom. I knew who my dad was, but he wasn’t part of my everyday life. As a young child, my view of him was mostly positive because, when I did see him, we had fun together. However, as I grew older my view of him began to change.
When he forgot to call me on my 13th birthday I was devastated. After he called a few days later to apologize, I turned to my mom and said, “I never want to talk to him again.” She said okay and that was that. My way of dealing with the feelings of anger was to completely harden my heart. It was as if he didn’t exist to me anymore. In my mind, what I had done and the way I felt towards my dad was completely justified.
Around age fifteen I began my relationship with Jesus. Almost immediately God began chipping away at my hardened heart. I began to realize that I couldn’t escape the fact that I was the one who chose to cut off contact with my father. I was still choosing to live in unforgiveness and anger towards him.
My senior year of high school God began to give me compassion toward my dad. I started to understand some of the context of his life and the hard things that he had gone through. God slowly broke my hard heart toward my father and I knew that I had to forgive him.
Forgiveness is a choice.
Forgiveness is a choice. It is something we have to choose over and over again. The Holy Spirit slowly guided me through the process of making the choice to forgive. In college I began to allow the Lord into the places of deepest disappointment, rejection, and abandonment in me as I experienced his healing and wholeness. I learned how real it is that unforgiveness is a poison—when you can’t forgive one person for a way they’ve wronged you, you find yourself angry and harboring bitterness towards many other people as well. Deep-rooted unforgiveness becomes a lens through which we begin to view every person and situation. Allowing God to change these things in me allowed him to change many things I had become.
Later in college, when I believed I had truly forgiven my dad, I thought I was good to go. But God began planting in me the idea of reaching out to my father and seeking reconciliation with him. I couldn’t continue on in my Christian walk pretending it was okay that I wasn’t reconciled to my dad.
For almost two years I fought with God. I didn’t want to do it. I entered a season of spiritual dryness that I knew was because of my disobedience in this.
After I became engaged to my husband, Chadd, God deeply impressed on me that I had to reach out to my dad. I also felt God asking me to invite my dad to the wedding and have him walk me down the aisle. So I called him. Through an awkward conversation my father agreed to meet me for dinner the following week.
On the way to dinner, everything in my wanted to turn around. My body was physically shaking from the need to run. But somehow God got me there, and I experienced His power made perfect in my weakness.
I experienced His power made perfect in my weakness.
At dinner God gave me the ability to love my dad and ask forgiveness from him for shutting him out. We shared about our lives, and I asked him to walk me down the aisle. After this, my dad actually broke down. He told me how unworthy he felt and how his shame had kept him from reaching out to me all these years. He apologized for everything he had done to hurt me too. I wasn’t expecting an apology from my dad as I knew that my choice to forgive wasn’t based upon whether or not he would change or receive it - but God blessed this conversation more than I could have asked or imagined.
The amount of freedom and breakthrough I have experienced personally since this experience is unexplainable. I would choose it again and again. And while our relationship is not perfect, I am so glad that God has reconciled it. We get together every few months now and I hope these times will continue to become more and more frequent.
And as for me, God has given me a new heart—one that is capable of forgiving and reconciling immense brokenness.