I had played this day out in my head for what seemed like forever. Hypothetical questions would run through my brain. What would I say? Would I be angry? What will his voice sound like? Would he even say sorry? My whole life had been spent without any existence of my biological father and when the unknown number appeared across my iPhone, I knew it was him. Any prior scenario was tossed out the window. I knew there had to be a God above because through all the hurt and pain I began to feel – at that very second – my love for this complete stranger seemed to outweigh it all.  I knew God was with me.

Will I Really Forget?

Forgive and forget. We are all so familiar with this cliché. Honestly, will we ever forget the wrong someone did to us? What if someone raped you? Abused you? Cheated? Neglected you like I felt from my father? We will never forget those things no matter how forgiving we are.  Hebrews 8:12 says, “Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more.” This scripture teaches us that because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross, all sins are forgiven.  The sins that haunt us daily, that we cannot seem to forget, have been forgiven. He won’t bring them up again. Isn’t that beautiful to know that God won’t throw up past sins in our face?

I fell off my bicycle when I was younger. I was trying to do one of those BMX tricks and instead became friends with the pavement. I gashed up my knee pretty bad. Ten years later, I still have a scar on my knee. The pain from that day may no longer be there, but that scar sure is. It’s a constant reminder never to do BMX tricks and is a story to share. I don’t have to pretend that it never happened, but I can face the fact that it did. I may have a scar there that was once an open painful womb, but it’s healed now. A scar makes you whole again.

Learning Honest Emotion

As I’m learning to forgive my father, I am learning to be honest not only with him but with myself. We can get so caught up with hurrying to forgive, that we never actually deal with our true feelings. I don’t know where we have received the idea that showing any emotion besides joy is sinful. It’s not.  God can handle our pain, our anger, or whatever else we are feeling.

Being honest also allows room for healing. We can spend years thinking we hate someone but in actuality we just long to tell them that they hurt our feelings. I searched my heart and realized I wasn’t angry with my father, but I was hurt. I was hurt because he missed out on my whole life and would never get those memories back. I had to have a heart-to-heart and confess to my father how I really felt.

What If They Hurt Us Again?

Matthew 18:21-22 tells us, “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to 70 times seven.’”

The first time I heard that Scripture I was shocked. Wait, God wants me not to just forgive my father for the one time he walked out, but forgive him again if he walks out 490 times?

How dare we question the times we forgive someone when God forgives us daily!  Because of Gods conditional love for us, no matter what we do or have done to hurt him, he forgives. God desires us to be the same way. Conditional love loves someone when they aren’t loveable. Just as God extends grace to me, I have to do the same to my father. Ephesians 2:4 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loves us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” God has shown us great love, so we have the ability to show this extravagant love to others.   True love trusts the person that once broke your heart.

Moving Through Forgiveness

Years have passed since I first spoke to my biological father, but that first conversation still plays out in my head. It’s been one of the hardest things I have had to work through. As you’re forgiving someone or yourself, know that forgiveness takes time. It’s a process. You will have to be honest with yourself and accept the fact you were hurt, but there are ways to not stay bound to the hurt. As you work through the pain of forgiveness, talk to God constantly. You may not always feel like praying, but have those tough conversations with God. Tell Him how you really feel, cast your cares on Him, because He cares. Also, don’t shy away from accountability and community while you’re in the process of forgiving and healing a relationship. A strong community will force you to deal with those heart issues. You need a circle of friends who you can be vulnerable with and who will ask you the tough questions and be willing to listen to your struggles.

God wants us to forgive. I remember telling my dad, “I forgive you not for you but for me.” I want to experience all that God has for my life and I can’t do that if I’m holding on to the baggage of my biological father not being there. Yes, forgiveness hurts, but it’s ultimately freeing.