Do you remember that hippie church song from your youth? Peace is flowing like a river, flowing out of you and meeeeeeee, flowing out into the desert, setting all the captives freeeeeeee. Forgiveness brings peace to the forgiver.
I sent a text to my ex after church Sunday, “I forgive you for everything you’ve done to hurt me.” I really meant it.
Seeing how bitter, angry and unforgiving my father is during his last days on earth reminded me that I need to just let it go. I need to forgive. In fact, God commands us to forgive.
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord” ~Leviticus 19:18
God takes it a step further and commands us not to seek revenge. I do forgive. A lot. Why a lot, you ask? Because when ex does something else, I sometimes un-forgive. I do not seek revenge, but I do find un-forgiveness creeping back into my heart every now and then. Sighs.
My dad has lung cancer that has spread to his adrenal glands, kidneys, lymph nodes and a few spots on his brain. The wasband still communicates with my father even after I’ve repeatedly asked him to stop AND told him that his communication gets my father angry with me and with my boys. Ex apparently doesn’t care because he continues to speak with my father. Moment of honesty here: it drives me batshit crazy that he won’t stop talking to my father and upsetting him! Batshit crazy!
It is so hard for me to comprehend the level of hatred and bitterness that would cause my ex to harm my father as my father is dying from lung cancer. I have pleaded for over two years. I’ve told him how my dad becomes angry after his visits and conversations. All to no avail. My ex is doing his best to ensure my dad doesn’t die at peace with his daughter and grandsons. *sighs* BUT, I believe in miracles and I KNOW that God is bigger than my ex. Even when it seems the odds are impossible, ALL things are possible for God. I still have hope despite what satan and his minions do here on earth.
My dad clings to anger and he holds grudges–all on his own. With a little encouragement from others like my ex, my dad kicks his anger into high gear. My dad doesn’t know Christ and I believe his not knowing Christ is why my he refuses to forgive and continues on in bitter, bitter anger. Satan wants my dad to focus on his anger toward those who want so badly to bring Christ to him. Satan wins when my father is consumed with anger. By focusing solely on his anger, my dad cannot see Christ there waiting for him, ready to embrace him in love.
The last time I visited my father, he went over his list of “Why I am angry with Pattie” items yet again. It’s a ritual each time I visit. On the top of his list are two sweaters and a jacket that went missing when I moved him here from California. He’s angry because these items were lost. So I asked, “Would you like me to go buy you two sweaters and a jacket that you can wear in this current 100° weather!?” He barked out a no. I actually got a chuckle thinking
When I asked, “Are you going to die angry with me over two sweaters and a jacket!?” He replied, “Probably so!” Sadly, he will probably die angry with me. There is absolutely nothing that I can do to change his heart. I can only pray and ask God to open his heart. I also ask God to help me not become so attached to worldly “stuff” that I would lose relationships over said stuff. I don’t want to die angry with someone over mere possessions! Are our earthly possessions worth losing peace over? Absolutely not.
That same day, he said over various items and in various ways that I wasn’t good enough and reiterated that my best wasn’t good enough when I’d respond, “I did the best I could, dad.” It hurt. No matter how well we know our parents aren’t fond of us as people, we each long for them to love and appreciate us. It’s another opportunity to practice forgiveness. Again and again. I admit that I find un-forgiveness creeping into my heart when I visit and my dad goes through the laundry list of his disappointments in me, his laundry list of my faults and all the reasons he is angry with me. I have to make a conscious decision to let go of anger and to forgive him again. Sighs.
A friend reminded me last night that the love Jesus calls us to have for our neighbor isn’t warm, fuzzy love — the feeling. Jesus’ calls us to make the choice to love despite our lack of warm feelings toward people. He calls us to care for the well-being of others–that is love! I will probably never have warm fuzzy lovey feelings for my dad. It just isn’t the sort of relationship my father and I have. Despite my dad’s feelings, I know that God knows I’m trying my best.
It has taken me a VERY long time to rediscover who it is that God says I am and I will NEVER forget again. My Heavenly Father loves me even when the men in my life don’t! I’m so thankful for His love.
After church Sunday, I went kayaking down part of the Smith River in Virginia. So much fun and peace to be had in kayaking down a river. Peace IS flowing like a river.