10 Tips For Forgiving Your Father
Look, I may not know you and probably don’t know your situation or whatever. I speak from personal experience about forgiving, as I have worked through a lot of issues of the past (my folks split up when I was a kid and I carried it with me for years until I dealt with it). I also speak from nearly 15 years of helping young people work through issues with their parents. The truth is, many of us, including grown adults, still struggle with forgiving our fathers. Unforgiveness with fathers is a real big issue, the effects of which transcend every part of our broken society.
Fathers, as we know, are instrumental in helping establishing who we are and what we believe about the world. Their actions and words are like a pen on paper, writing into us our very identities. Our sense of self worth is in their hands at a very young age and can be either established with strong roots or torn down to the dust. Here are 10 Tips For Forgiving Your Dad:
1. Consider that you may be harboring unforgiveness. Maybe, just maybe (or maybe not)- might you still be holding a grudge against your father? Maybe he treated you or your mom poorly, maybe he wasn’t around much or at all. Maybe he just made some poor choices. Perhaps it is on the front of your mind or stuffed far away, but consider that you may be holding back forgiveness inside. Even if your father has passed, you still may be dealing with unresolved issues.
What forgiveness is not- Forgiving does not mean that what happened is a good thing. It does not mean that we put ourselves in a position to be hurt continually over and over again. It does mean that we release the wrong-doing from the person. We don’t hold it against them any more (like a debt being forgiven).
2. Talk about it with someone you trust. Listen, don’t hold those thoughts and emotions to yourself any longer. There is probably someone in you life that you can talk to about your father. If you can, talk to someone who is trained as a counselor. They can really help you identify what you really may be dealing with in terms of your past. Darkness becomes less dark when it is brought out into the light.
3. Know it may take time to sort through. Chances are, it took years (if not dozens of years) for your relationship with your father to be where it is today. All that hurt isnt going to be undone over night. It is going to take time to work through it. Be patient. If you shake a 2-liter bottle of Coke up violently, you can’t let all the pressure out at once. It must be let out slowly or you will have a big mess on your hands! Dealing with hurt can be the same way. You may deal with it over time, but start the process of dealing with it today!
4. Know God knows how it feels. His family has been totally broken since the beginning of time. God gave man the choice to love him or not love him. He has dealt with rejection millions of times over and it breaks his heart deeply every time. He hurts with you, more than any person will ever know…but he doesn’t want to leave you there.
5. Choose to forgive before you want to forgive. If you have a lot of pain inside from your father or mother that hasn’t yet surfaced, you probably don’t want to forgive. Choose to. Please. Decide to forgive. Eventually, your heart will follow. You won’t naturally want to forgive at first, or you would have done so a long time ago. Stop waiting until you want to, decide to start forgiving today.
6. Forgiving is not an option if you want to move on in life. Many people never deal with the pain of the past. I promise you those that don’t deal with their past will never walk into their true destiny in life. They (or you perhaps) will always be held back in some regard by the past. It is going to be painful, but allow yourself to process your past and you will be able to start really living in the present. You need it more than you know!
7. Note your own limitations. You are not perfect and neither are your parents. They are human and they make mistakes. I know this probably makes you frustrated hearing me say this (Chad, you don’t know me and you don’t know what I’ve been through.) You are probably right, I don’t know what it is like to be in your shoes. Still, I know by experience that no one on earth is perfect. None. We all have limitations.
8. See the effects of the generations. Your father (or mother) was a kid too. They didn’t choose the family they grew up in, the situation that formed and shaped them into who they are today. The Bible talks about sin affecting generation upon generation. The impact of one generation (positive or negative) can influence several generations down the road. Even newer popular psychology supports this Biblical truth. Your father is the product of several generations of imperfect men and women. You may be the very one in your family that breaks free…if you can forgive and allow yourself to be healed.
9. Know he probably did the best he knew how to do. Seriously, he probably did the best he could. I’m not saying he did a good job and that he isn’t responsible for his actions. I’m just saying he probably didn’t have a great example when he was a kid. He definitely didn’t have the resources, support and education that is readily available to fathers today. He probably did the best he could at the time. Forgive him.
10. Pray for your dad. If you can get to the point where you can pray for your dad, you are getting somewhere. As you begin to lift your dad up in prayer, you heart will start to slowly shift. You’ll even begin to see your earthy father the way your eternal father sees him- dependent, human, loved, forgiven.
3 Promises for Forgiving- I promise it’s worth it. I promise it won’t be easy, but I promise you can do it. You may not have control over the outcome of the relationship, but you certainly have control over whether or not you forgive. I have an amazing relationship with my dad today and I love him more than anyone could love a dad. We have gone through the fire and will be there for each other for as long as we have on earth.
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Why is it so difficult for us to see unforgiveness in our own hearts? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments below…