It is a joy to welcome Michelle Price back to the Redeemed Girl blog as she shares her journey towards forgiving her father. Whether you harbor anger at a man you’ve never known or resentment towards a father who has disappointed you; I know you’ll find Michelle’s experience of hope and healing priceless. —Marian Jordan Ellis
Just days ago, America celebrated Father’s Day with ugly ties, quirky coffee mugs, and by spoiling the man we call “Dad.” While Father’s Day is fun, it can be very painful for some of us. I get it. There was a time when even praying to my Heavenly Father caused me deep heartache. Why? Because It created a longing for a restored relationship with my earthly father. There was a deep ache in my heart for a renewed relationship with the man whom I’d admired so much as a little girl and who had spoiled me rotten. Growing up, I had a wonderful relationship with my dad, but as a grown woman, I watched him make terrible choices that led to his incarceration and nearly destroyed our relationship.
You often hear in recovery circles that the first step to freedom is admitting you have a problem. Sure, my dad broke my trust and deeply disappointed me, but I had to face my own junk. If we were going to have a relationship going forward, that required me to obey Jesus’ command to forgive.
For a good year after my dad went to prison, I dug my heels in. I would not forgive him. After all, he was wrong, and I didn’t want to be the bigger person. My judgments against him kept me locked in my own prison of bitterness and heartbreak. My stubbornness kept me from healing and prevented me from extending grace that we both so desperately needed. So, on Father’s Day four years ago, after much turmoil and grief, I decided to visit my dad in prison and extend to him the same grace and forgiveness that Jesus had given to me.
It was tough waking up that morning knowing that I would see my dad. I had not talked to him in over a year. Even harder was that fact that my children would go with me. I wrestled with seeing him in that state, trying to convince my sweet husband that I did not want to ruin his Father’s Day weekend to go visit. But my husband gently encouraged me and held me while I cried. I will always love and respect how he always treated my father with dignity no matter the situation.
When I saw my father for the first time behind bars, my heart softened. I saw my dad, not the man I had been so angry with, just my dad. I let the kids talk first and I tried my hardest not to cry. God was using this moment to heal my heart. I didn’t say much, he apologized for where he was and the decisions that led him there. I listened and even though it was hard, I forgave. I knew obedience to God was the first step towards restoration. Forgiveness provided freedom from bitterness.
That visit was the beginning of many. Forgiveness towards my Dad took time; I wrestled with God. I would switch from utter sadness to anger. My kids had a front row seat to this process and we had many talks about forgiveness. While forgiveness was not easy, as a mom I knew God was teaching them through this process by growing their capacity to forgive and to love. My kids also had a front row seat to observe Romans 8:28, which says, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Fast forward to this past weekend, while my dad is no longer in prison, we didn’t spend this Father’s Day together for different reasons. He was at home in another city barbecuing while my family was at church gearing up for VBS. I’m thankful that five years later I can celebrate Father’s Day and my dad without the pain and bitterness of unforgiveness. Praise Jesus! I have a great relationship with my dad, and my kids love their Popo. I understand that my father is not perfect, but neither am I. We both need the same saving grace that only Jesus can provide.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
My prayer for anyone with a broken
Heavenly Father, thank you that you are the great I AM and that you love your daughters more than we can imagine. That you call us beloved and that we are the apple of your eye. I thank you that you are our perfect Father. I ask that whether there is an absent father or a broken relationship with a father, that you would heal your daughter’s heart. That where restoration is possible, you would restore. Where healing is possible, you would heal. Thank you for being the best Daddy a daughter could ask for.
In Jesus’ Name,