“I never had a daddy,” she said.
Tears rolled down the face of the woman who sat near me in the forgiveness class at the women’s retreat.
It was odd, but I felt happy as I watched her cry and saw the hurt on her face.
It wasn’t that I’m a sadist and like to see people in pain. A number of years ago I was in the same place and said her exact words.
The joyous feeling came when I realized I didn’t hurt anymore. Now I felt I had a daddy–my Abba Father. The gladness also welled up in me because I knew she didn’t have to stay in pain. Like me, she could be free.
In that room where a speaker shared how God helped her forgive, and ladies cried and voiced pain over how people had hurt them, God showed me how far I’d come in the area of forgiveness and specifically in forgiving my father. I celebrated that I no longer felt the anger or deep hurt I had carried around with me every day for so many years.
I marveled at the freedom I had found through forgiveness.
I reached out to that lady whose name was Kathy and told her a bit of my story. I shared with her the insight God had given me which allowed me to develop a deep compassion for my father and helped me to forgive him. It was: my dad didn’t know how to be a daddy because he never had one. She said that was true of her father as well.
I asked Kathy for her email, and after arriving home sent her some encouraging words about letting God be her daddy and allowing Him to help her forgive her father.
Ever since I answered God’s invitation to let Him be my daddy, He has healed the holes in my soul from my not feeling accepted, protected, or cherished by my father in my growing-up years.
Not only has God the Father been a daddy to me, but my relationship with my earthly father is closer than I ever dreamed it could be. Some days when we’re together, I feel like I’m a little child, and he’s my daddy–even though I am now 57 years old.
When I reflect on my Christian life, it seems freedom found through forgiveness has changed me most. Some days I slip back into the “bitter me,” and it’s a miserable place to be. I’ve seen how forgiveness has also helped me win my battle with depression.
I pray Kathy will soon experience the joy and freedom to be found in forgiving her father and embracing God as her daddy. This prayer also goes out for the scores of women facing that same sense of hurt and anguish from which God longs to free them.
When I think of forgiveness, one of the verses that often comes to mind is this:
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ in God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV
There truly is freedom in living that verse out in my life. What a difference forgiveness has made. What a cause for celebration!
What about you? Are you holding on to unforgiveness toward your father or someone else in your life? Ask God to help you let go of it and embrace the joy and freedom found in forgiveness.