I was recently sitting in the church seats awaiting the start of the service, when I looked at the top of the program that was handed to me as I walked into the building. On the top of the program it stays: Anger. I was shocked. I knew that this service was meant for me in such a time as this.
Without knowing it, I realized that this service would speak to the core of my un-forgiveness for my father. Without realizing it, this service would dig into the anger that I’ve carried throughout my life for my father. All I knew was I needed to hear this and I needed to take it seriously.
As I listened to the sermon, I scratched notes fervently on the program, allowing my heart to soak up the wise words of the pastor. I knew that I’d look back at the notes and the scriptures and I would be putting meat to the skeleton of my un-forgiveness and bitterness.
Throughout the sermon, the pastor highlighted Ephesians 4:26-27 where it says, “…Do not let the sun go down when you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
Here’s the truth, often when we are hurting due to the words or the actions we tend to burry that pain into our hearts and we carry it. When the Apostle Paul wrote the words “…Do not let the sun go down when you are still angry…..” it seems that Paul is encouraging us to deal with the pain that has rested in our hearts. Do not carry this anger around from the different seasons of our lives.
Hearing these words, I realized that I’ve been carrying bitterness for my father from season to season: from my childhood to my adolescence to my adulthood. I’ve been carrying this bitterness around too long! I need to let it go!
Now, that’s easier said than done. I’ve told myself for years that I needed to forgive my father, yet I still hold bitterness so close. The question is: How do I deal with it once and for all?
Listening to the sermon, the pastor described three steps that helps lead to healing and forgiveness.
We are asked to observe communion not only as a remembrance of Christ forgiving us, but in remembrance of us forgiving those that offended us. For me, that is my father. After church Jessica and I returned to her mother’s house where we discussed the sermon and the idea of forgiveness. She spoke about the pain that she continued to carry and I spoke earnestly about my desire to forgive my father.
After speaking earnestly about our bitterness and our need to forgive, we opened our sealed communion cups. Holding each other’s hands, we approached the Lord in prayer. I prayed specifically for Jessica and she prayed specifically for me.
We took communion together.
I can finally say that I’ve forgiven my father for the pain that I’ve carried over the last three decades. I will no longer blame him for my jagged edges; I will thank him for his provision. I will no longer allow the enemy to control my emotions toward my father; instead I will choose to forgive. I will choose to gift forgiveness to my father.
I am going to trust that God will heal my heart and allow me to rebuild a relationship with my father that have never had before. I am going to trust God throughout this process so that create a better future for my fiancée and my future children.
I will trust in God as Christ forgives me and I will pray that my father also seek forgiveness from a Holy and perfect God.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” –Ephesians 4:31-32.
While I am working on the condition of forgiveness on my heart, one of the questions that I was faced to ask myself was: Why has God placed this burden on my heart?
The obvious observer would easily be able to answer this: We are called to forgive those that have hurt us in the same way that we ask God to forgive us. Yet, I think there’s a deeper, more personal reason to God placing forgiveness on my heart.
The truth is I am growing in my faith, which means that I need to grow as a man. I can no longer hold on to the pain of my adolescence. The thick burden of guilt on my spirit cannot remain, it needs to be lifted from my shoulders, especially since I am getting married and I am about to start my own family.
Since I am beginning my own family, I know that I cannot carry the burdens of un-forgiveness of my childhood into my adulthood, if I do, then I will be inevitably infecting my new marriage and my future family with the same insecurities that have plagued me all of these years.
Working through the Past
Since it is imperative that I begin to heal these years old hurts, I need to go back to the three sources of my pain that I wrote about in part one and I need to begin to see God’s view of my insecurities. That means I need to allow my identity to transform me by the words of Christ in relation to the insecurities that I labeled.
Through a few late nights of thinking through these issues, I realize that I am not alone in these feelings. None of us are alone! I honestly believe that many of those who maybe reading these words may also suffer from these insecurities. Too often they feel insignificant, they may feel insecure, or they may feel inferior. The truth is God never desired us to feel these insecurities. It is because of these insecurities, we never truly encounter God’s purpose for our life. I know that’s what I was feeling throughout my childhood and my teenage years. I believed that I had no purpose in life. I believed that I was a mistake or that my family’s lives would have been better if I were not involved.
That was not God’s truth…….
If you are reading these words and you have ever felt any of these insecurities, just know that you are not alone. You may be trying to let go of things from your past that is keeping you from fully knowing your identity in Christ, but that doesn’t mean that you are facing your obstacles alone.
Everything that we are facing can be common for many others. That means that we are part of a community. Even though the enemy tries to convince us that we walk these difficult paths alone, we are actually part of an in-depth community where we can work through our insecurities and our broken pasts together. So, while the enemy believes that he is isolating us, he is actually building a community that God can use overtake the enemy’s attempts to destroy the body of Christ.
At the end of the day we have the opportunity to hand our pain and our insecurities to our Heavenly Father. As I am going through a time of healing from my past, I am able to feel the freedom that God has delivered through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Can we be honest, forgiveness is one of the most difficult things that we are asked to do. Whether we are asked to forgive a family member who has hurt us, or we are asked to forgive a friend or former friend due to an offense that was caused.
If we were truly being honest with ourselves, we would never forgive the person that hurt or offended us. We would ignore the problem. We would never truthfully discuss the offense; it would only be buried in an internal graveyard where we keep all of our personal demons and skeletons at bay.
I can say that this is all too real for me. In recent months God has placed one person on my heart: my father. Let’s face the facts, my father and I have not always had the best relationship over the years. From missing large chunks of my childhood to not being able to relate to me throughout my teen years extending to my adult life, my father and I just never truly connected.
Due to these major events, I have developed animosity and anger towards my father, which has been burning in my chest for many years. Just when I thought these issues were healed wounds and I had moved on, I have had to come to the agreement that the wound is still agape and yet to be healed.
The time for healing is now….
In order to fully heal these wounds and forgive my father, I need to hand the pain that I’ve carried for so long over to my God. Through that, healing will be evident.
Consider the source
Here’s what I’ve realized, you can’t heal from your past until you take the time to truly understand your pain. I’m not talking about just being able to discuss your shortcomings, but digging deep into the wound, discovering the root of the issue of the shortcoming.
This is what I’ve had to do. For every issue that I carry, for every layer of unforgiving thick skin, I need to be able to identify the source in order to allow healing to occur. As I searched my heart, I found three major topics that I discovered that require work in order to fully forgive my father and heal my heart.
My Christian Call
At the age of nineteen I gave my life to Christ. I accepted that through the blood of Jesus, I was given a new life. Over the last eleven years, I have grown into a better man. I have been given the opportunity to share my faith with friends, family members, and even strangers. I have walked away from my relationship with God and I found my way back to Jesus.
Over the years God has challenged me to step out in faith in many ways; yet, forgiving my father has been the most challenging. First of all, God spoke to my heart about this situation years ago. To be honest, I thought I had dealt with the bitterness that I carried. I thought I had forgiven my father. I guess I was wrong.
Here I am again, the Holy Spirit urging me to forgive my father for his shortcomings and mistakes. This time I will do it properly and fully. I will pray for my father daily, asking God to transform my heart, to see my father as a man who works hard to provide for his children, a man who needs Jesus just as much as I do.
Anthony K. Giesick
Actions are taken everyday that help make this world better and I just want to share them with you.