I had played this day out in my head for what seemed like forever. Hypothetical questions ran through my brain. What would I say? Would I be angry? What will his voice sound like? Would he even say sorry?
I had spent my whole life not knowing my biological father, and when the unknown number appeared across my iPhone, I knew it was him. Any prior scenario that I had planned in my head was tossed out the window. Oddly enough, through the hurt and pain I felt at that moment, my love for this complete stranger seemed to outweigh it all. I knew God was with me.
Will I Really Forget?
Forgive and Forget—it’s a cliché we all know. But honestly, will we ever forget the wrong someone did to us? What if someone raped you? Abused you? Cheated? Or neglected you like I felt my father did to me? You may try to dump those things out of your head, but they’re things you will probably never completely forget no matter how forgiving you are.
Think about Jesus when He was on the Cross, taking on our sin and dying one of the most agonizing deaths so that we could experience true forgiveness. I believe Jesus won’t ever forget that day, seeing the fact He has holes in his hands and feet that constantly remind Him.
Jesus does forgive, but He doesn’t forget. However, He doesn’t remember our sins either. Hebrews 8:12 says, “Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Jesus never said He would forget our sins, but instead that He won’t remember them—He won’t bring them up again because we have been forgiven.
Isn’t that beautiful to know that God won’t throw our past sins in our face?
Learning Honest Emotion
As I’m learning to forgive my father, I am learning to be honest not only with him but myself. We can get so caught up with hurrying to forgive that we never actually deal with how we truly feel.
I don’t know where we believers have gotten the idea that showing any emotion besides joy is sinful. It’s not. God can handle our pain, our anger or whatever else we’re 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 had missed out on my whole life up to that point and we would never get those memories back. I had to have a heart-to-heart and confess with 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 God’s unconditional love for us, no matter what we do or have done to hurt Him, He forgives. God desires us to be the same way. Unconditional love loves someone when they aren’t loveable. Just as God extends grace to me, I have to do the same to my father.
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 and who will ask you the tough questions and be willing to listen to your struggles.
God wants us to forgive unconditionally. 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.
From the time she was born, KJ Golden has had a passion for art. Whether she is spitting her latest bars or guest writing for a hip-hop blog, her knowledge and passion can be seen. She has dedicated her life to Christ, authenticity and art. Find her on Twitter @introducing_kj.