Archives For Forgiveness

31st May 2015_Rod LampardIn spite of my mother’s disapproval, as kids, my father would chase us around while wearing a witch’s mask. He gave himself away by his laughter, but in utter fear, my young sister and I would hide all around the house. Once we started attending school, his use of the mask had withered down to a threat, used only as a tool to pull us into line.

My family was dysfunctional.

Whenever we visited other families who had kids, my sister and I were forced to sit and not make a sound. It was rare that we’d be allowed to play. It was understandable, the environments weren’t all that great and my mother knew it.

We were a family stuck on welfare, living in government housing, growing up in a government housing estate.

It’s evident to most that my father had some minor emotional and mental health issues he never could shake free from. He wasn’t always there, shutting himself off in a world of his own, dragging us as a family into it. We were never quite sure when or where we’d land.

At one time he considered himself to be a private detective, proudly displaying his suspect, distance-education, mail-to-order qualifications on the lounge room wall.

These sat alongside mug shots and fingerprinted profiles of my sister and me, there “for our own protection.”

To our chagrin, he became the local neighbourhood watch co-ordinator, setting us all at odds with the demographic of every street other than our own.Sometime later he joined the Royal Australian Army Reserve. By this time my parent’s relationship had hit the rocks.

My father soon met and then married another woman, with whom he later had three amazing children. My parents divorced and a whole new dance with dysfunction began. My father and stepmother would have continual problems within their relationship, themselves divorcing sooner than some had predicted they would.

What complicated things was that, their son, Adam, had died. The day this happened my father rang my mother and we went over. Unable to revive the little man, my little brother was pronounced dead by the paramedics. His death later determined to have been caused by SIDs.

Before the ambulance took him away, my father wanted photos taken of us with him. It was hard, we weren’t real sure, but the photos were taken anyway.

Situations like this one had a major impact on me. Events such as { link } or being dragged into court for eating food from the fridge, which my father had accused me of stealing, cannot be justified.

After living with my dad for a few years, our relationship had become more and more strained. This ended abruptly, with me moving back to live with my mother.

We’ve shared a rough road.

It was in March this year, after an eight-hour road trip, that I saw my father for the first time in eight years. Having had extended my hand of friendship to him for the past ten, we had put in place boundaries and were on relatively good terms.

But, my father was dying. He had been sick for some time and finding the right time to make the eight-hour trip was always difficult.

After our visit, we were told that he was the best he’d been in two weeks. He was vibrant, talkative and pleased to see us. God’s quiet provision in this difficult situation was evident. When our meeting ended I prayed with him and said our goodbyes.

He’d hoped that he would have had more time, but five days later he passed away.

Over the years, it’s been difficult to process all that took place. It’s been even harder working out the right way to communicate it, without bulldozing people over with too much information, all at once. I admit I stumble over this more often than not.

Any forgiveness towards my father is made more complicated by the ongoing struggle to navigate and reconcile the consequences left in the wake of his decisions.

I believe, however, that through Jesus Christ and His example of forgiveness we are enabled to forgive.

In line with what Reinhold Niebuhr said, Christian forgiveness, like Christian prayer, is not stoic detachment.[i] The past is far from forgotten, but I am able to forgive and as a result move forward in that forgiveness.

The evidence of God’s presence and guidance in this situation is real.

His forgiveness became mine as I was lead to befriend and establish boundaries with my father ten years ago. That same forgiveness enabled me to meet with my dying father at the right time, crack a joke, have his grandkids talk to him about Home school, give him a hug, pray with him, and say my goodbye.

‘For you, the Lord my God lighten my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.’
– (Psalm 18:28-30, ESV)

Source:

[i] Niebuhr, R. 1945, Discerning the Signs of The Times