What an Absentee Father Taught me about Forgiveness

Father’s Day 2017.

I found myself wasting time procrastinating after church on social media.  Though I had plenty of writing to complete I wasn’t quite in the mood to deal with my tasks.  Scrolling through social media I came across hundreds of people sharing photos of them and their fathers.  It was accompanied with long paragraphs of how grateful they were to have him in their life. 

It was a great site to see but I couldn’t take looking at them any longer.  I closed my social media for the day.  A touch of envy filled my body.  My experience was different and I couldn’t relate to the feeling of having a standup man as their father.  The closest figure that I had was my big brother who is 16 years older than me.  He filled the role though it wasn’t in his job description.

The relationship with my father leaves me with memories of empty promises.  “I’ma do better baby.”  Only to follow the role to a script he wrote 27 years ago.  Birthday cards sent with the incorrect ages and promises of visits and toys that never came. 

What hurt most was that he has four children but I was the only one he made a choice not to be active in their life.  My three sisters have stories of how he is the father of the year.  In the meantime, I was left wondering if he was real or just a figment of my imagination. 

Have you ever been punished for an act that you had no involvement in?  An innocent bystander caught in the crossfire.  I know my fatherless sistas can relate.  Though we did nothing wrong but come into existence.  We are the ones that are left with the lasting side effects. 

A year ago my father decided to visit me.  Lunch went great.  However, the conversation on the way back to his hotel went left.  He brought up the past and filled the conversation with excuses of why he was absent.  None of his reasons held any weight and it only irritated me.  Just like a broken record he left saying “baby, I promise I’ma do better.”

Our relationship became weight on my shoulders.  I became so angry that I was bitter.  His actions continued to baffle me.  Here I was out here killing it.  I have two degrees, starting a business, a thriving podcast and blog, just all around dope person.  Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of my life?

The effects of our relationship was appearing in other areas of my life.  My trust for people became minimal and I didn’t allow friends to get too close to me.  The people around me were becoming victims of this dying relationship between my father and me.  Holding on to the hurt was effecting my elevation.  I became a bag lady that was carry too much stuff to make it up the stairs.

It was finally time to let it go.

It was nothing else left to do but to forgive my father.

Forgiveness usually occurs when you have made a mistake.  Why would you forgive someone when you did nothing wrong? The answer is easy, to set yourself free.  To let go of the past that has been hindering you.  It will not wash the past away or guarantee a new future.  But it will allow you to live without being bitter.  I am not saying that it will be easy.  You will want to hold on to the hurt with the belief that forgiving them will let them off of the hook. 

It’s not about them.  This is for you.  Don’t allow your past to hinder your future. 

How can we forgive? Here are 3 steps.

1. Accept your feelings of the situation

When we are hurt, it is easy to fall into the trap to act as everything is alright.  But to get past it and forgive, you must first accept your feelings of the situation.  Stop lying to yourself. 

2. Place your pride to the side

Ego is one hell of a drug.  Forgiveness brings it out.  Who wants to be the first to let go of the rope? You can either continue to be “right” about the situation (even when you were not wrong), or be great.  The choice is yours.

3.  Change the story about the pain

What is the story that you are speaking about the situation? We adjust our focus on the pain and forget one thing.  The pain developed a new thing on the inside of us.  Did you come out on the other side stronger, independent, with wisdom? Next time the story plays back in your head focus on your new traits instead of the same sad story.

Who do you need to forgive today?