How to Forgive Your Dad
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God”
Today is June 19th, 2016, Father’s Day! A day set aside once a year to pay homage to dads! So many people are waking up excited to call their father, send them a text, post something nice, or get prepped for a barbecue! They have a good relationship with their paternal parent, which is wonderful and how it should be!
But sadly, for many other people this is a difficult day; they wish it never came around each year. When they think of their dads, nothing good is felt inside, only resentment. Some won’t even call their biological fathers “Dad” or even “Father.” They refuse to acknowledge that person is who they came from. Disappointment, frustration, anger, and sadness, all come to mind each time the notion of that man hits them.
This is an awkward day to say the least. Conjuring up memories about their father is not a happy thing at all, there is no reason for them to celebrate. The relationship they wish they had is nonexistent.
Many sons and daughters have nearly ruined their lives subconsciously trying to impress their dads. But their dads couldn’t care less about what they do or don’t do, they’re too focused on other things and people. Some dads have abused their kids and never even apologized for it, they act like it never happened. Some fathers have abandoned their children due to workaholism, alcoholism, sex addiction, homosexuality, ministry, mission work, or the streets. Anything was more important to them other than their kids.
Some men have selfishly given up on their wedding vows, or refused to even make wedding vows. Instead, they’ve used every excuse possible to not keep their family together, nor their promises to their wife and God. The confidence and security of their children through having a tight-knit family unit wasn’t important enough. Everyone was split up because of their selfish decisions. Everyone was left in pain.
Some have even stopped paying attention to their kids in order to pursue the relationship of a woman other than their children’s mom. They gave no craps about what this terrible choice would do to the soul of their child. “I need to be happy,” they’ll say, as their children suffer.
Then again, a lot of absent dads still live at home but their drinking, drugging, video-game-binging, religion, church work or hobbies, come above being a loving parent. “I’m doing what I want, so shut up! I’m the dad!”
Last but not least, today you might be dealing with the worst situation of all: a dad who left you without even saying good-bye. He never even acknowledges your existence. He has nothing to do with you, ever.
Friend, if this is you, I want to help you today. I want to help you heal. Your father owed you so much. He owed you love, he owed you safety, and he owed you leadership. But we humans have the ability to not give others what they are owed…we fall short and fail all the time. Thankfully, through Christ there’s hope, because through Christ there’s forgiveness! Where forgiveness is there is freedom! Do you want to be free from the pain caused by others? Sure you do. We all do. Here, these steps might help you:
- When people hurt you don’t ignore it, point it out. Because of my history of codependency issues this was a rather large hill to climb in my thought processes. Those of us who have struggled with codependency and enabling, we don’t want to rock the boat with people so we overlook the severe pain they cause us. THIS MUST STOP. You should always acknowledge the pain someone causes you. Always. After you do, make a decision through God’s Spirit of what you will do with that pain. Most decisions He leads you to will go against what the world has taught you, so pay attention. Pain in relationships is usually caused by someone owing you something and yet they refuse to give it to you. Our dads owe us a lot. They owe us unconditional love, time, mature teaching and supervision; they owe us structure, a warm bed, and hot meals–just to name a few. So whatever it is your dad owes you, and never gave it to you, acknowledge it. Speak it out loud or write it down, but be specific.
- Make a decision to forgive. Making a decision to forgive has nothing to do with how you feel. You may never feel like forgiving your dad, and that’s okay. Do not overlook your feelings! Your feelings are very important and they matter! And don’t you dare belittle them either! However, we cannot make all of our decisions by how we feel. Truthfully, most of our decisions should not come from our feelings, but instead from God’s guidance within us. God will not control or manipulate your feelings–He gave them to you for a reason, they’re yours. Further, He’s never mad at you because of your feelings. Feelings are just feelings, and the Holy Spirit will guide you into what to do with your feelings. Feelings are like the wind, you don’t want to build your life on them! So instead of focusing on how impossible it is to forgive your dad based on how you feel, decide to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice not a feeling. Simply say, “You owe me big time, but I’m choosing to forgive you today.” This choice is for you. You can let him know you’re forgiving him, or not, it doesn’t matter. They don’t even have to agree with what you think they owe you. Sure, that’d be nice, but you don’t need them to confess their failures before you decide to let their debt go.
- Move forward and ignore the enemy. After you acknowledge everything that your dad owes you, and after you decide to forgive, the enemy will want you to think you have not forgiven them. How? By getting you to focus on your feelings and the past. “See? You didn’t really forgive! Just look at how you feel right now! You’re a terrible forgiver and a lousy Christian! Your dad hurt you horribly! You’ll never get over it so don’t even try!” Ignore this idiot. Satan is the father of all lies, Jesus said so Himself (see John 8:44). You did forgive because you chose to forgive. You forgave as an act of your will. By doing so, you organically gave away what you have inside and Satan hates that about you. You’ll be able to recognize his lies because he will want you to focus on your feelings and not on the choice you made. Remember, feelings ebb and flow, choices do not. Stay focused on what you’ve already done–forgave! That’s past tense!
- Enjoy your choice of forgiveness. This is the best part! Jesus knew the secret to true happiness and peace: forgiveness! Absolute, 100%, complete forgiveness! Forgiveness frees you from all bitterness, rage, and hate! Forgiveness purifies your mindset and allows you to live out your true identity as a saint! So enjoy your own gift of forgiving your dad, today!
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father I want to thank you for Father’s Day, it’s a good day! I also want to thank you for being the best Dad ever! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. Some of them will never understand what the difficulty of Father’s Day feels like, and that’s good. But for those who are in pain, I’m asking that you begin the healing process in their souls today. Guide them as they write down everything their fathers owe them–all of it. Then strengthen them from within, by your Spirit, to be able to choose to forgive! After they forgive, help them to recognize the enemy’s lies! And lastly, empower them with your grace to be able to enjoy the forgiveness they just gave away! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 2. Get your copy here!