Seven months ago I met my biological father, Gus, for the first time. Four months and fifteen days ago I brought him home to live with me, and became his full-time caregiver. It was the most amazing journey I have ever been on, and it was also one of the hardest.
As things unfolded around me, I realized I would have some forgiving to do when Gus passed away someday. Although I’ve been extremely busy in other seasons of my life, I have never been so busy that I had to table going through the process of forgiveness. It wasn’t that I was resisting God’s voice in my life, or the command in Scripture to forgive. The issue was that fulfilling all of my existing responsibilities and taking care of Gus was so overwhelming that I didn’t have time to properly deal with hurts as they came. I went to therapy, but an hour a week isn’t enough to dump all of the disappointment, and in some cases the anger, out and address it thoroughly. When I came home from work, it was all I could do to survive and get through the routine of care.
Gus passed away a week ago. I still cry a lot, which is understandable. I miss him so much. I’d do anything just to have another moment with him,and the tears aren’t going away any time soon. I am physically and emotionally exhausted. But I know I can’t wait anymore to start this process of forgiveness because too much rides on it. The anger I’ve kept at bay is rising, begging for release. And I can’t just leave it here to do what anger does, unchecked.
Yes, this is me talking about my dark side.
I have anger.
And some other things I don’t even know how to identify but I know they are not good.
(I’ll get help identifying them, no worries.)
Most people assume I have to forgive Gus, and it’s not the case.
Not at all.
Even when Gus was alive, I didn’t feel wounded by him. I was so enthralled that I was accepted by him from day one, and felt so cherished. I do not have unresolved anger toward him.
So regarding these wounds on the periphery of our relationship, it is time to safely release what feels like a tidal wave into a space that won’t bring any harm to others.
I wish it could be overnight, but it won’t be. I’ve been on a forgiveness journey this big before.
This is not my first forgiveness rodeo.
There are levels in the forgiveness process. A therapist once described it to me as the difference of healing from someone accidentally poking you with a pencil point, or someone stabbing you with a knife on purpose. They are two totally different things. All wounds are not the same.
When I shared with Chaplain Steve (our Hospice Chaplain) that once Gus passed away, I was going to take time alone and practice solitude to work through all this to forgiveness he made it sound rather easy when he said, “If people show you who they truly are, this is an indication that you may not need them in your life going forward.”
I love and respect Steve. But I’m not sure it’s that simple.
I wish it was.
You know what I’m talking about.
You have situations in your life like this.
I know you do.
Situations that are hard to extricate yourself from and people you don’t really want to remove from your life, because honestly, that would be even more painful.
Are you going to leave your family, your job or your church, or any other area of your life just because one person or even a few people offend you? I’m not. That would be pretty silly and the very definition of the old saying of “throwing the baby out with the bath water.” If we did that every time we were wounded, we’d eventually leave everything and have nothing left. (I realize there are extenuating circumstances where it’s so toxic you do have to leave.)
So, I always knew when Gus passed, I’d have to work through all of these feelings that can lead to nothing good. I’ve got to get all the gunk out that’s in my heart over this. It’s heavy and I need to scrape every bit of it out of my soul, but right now it feels like a million pounds and will take a proverbial forklift to get it out.
I understand that processing pain is critical so it won’t affect my relationship with the Lord, my spirit, or my interactions with others in general.
I’ve already taken enough time off from work and had so many adjustments to my normal work life, just taking care of Gus. So on some of my days off and some weekends I’m going to take time by myself to heal my heart and strengthen it and get ready for the next season. Since I’ve taken great care of my husband during this journey all along, alone time shouldn’t be a problem in the least. 🙂
God is greater than our wounds. He will give me direction, peace and the ability to reconcile things that have happened that during the past four months and fifteen days that I thought I couldn’t be okay with moving forward as if nothing was wrong, once Gus was gone.
This isn’t just my issue.
Everyone grapples with forgiving.
I can’t remember a time I wasn’t in the process of forgiving someone, and I don’t think that’s odd, it’s just life.
In Luke 17:1 Jesus said that it is inevitable that offenses will come. Being wounded by others is a given in life. What we do in the aftermath of that determines everything.
It’s important to not allow resentment to turn us into someone God never intends us to be. Anger, resentment, bitterness – all these things will not only impact us personally — it affects everything we touch! People can sense right away when we have “soaked” in these emotions. I don’t know about you, but I need God to wring me out right now.
Come on, do this with me…
Not just for five minutes, but hours or days if possible.
Don’t shove the disappointments and wounds down.
Take time to lament, confess, worship, pray, and cry until you can’t cry anymore.
Let it all out.
Let God speak to you.
When you bring everything to the Lord, He is faithful to restore your soul.
I’m running so hard after this right now.
I’m running after forgiveness like I’m the third monkey trying to get on the ark!
It’s THAT worth it, because it absolutely determines my future and yours.
Let’s do this together.