Gift of Forgiving I: New Year's Resolutions
Updated: Oct 2, 2019
Every New Year I write down lofty resolutions – ones that often go unachieved. In 2004, I scribbled out “get to know my Dad more, make an effort to spend more time with him,” on a mundane piece of white ruled notebook paper. Come October of 2004 and I would add yet another resolution to the unachieved list.
Those scribbled words danced in my mind the whole twelve hour drive to the funeral. At twenty-one, I had put the onus on me to create a relationship instead of living with the few memories I had. For ten months procrastination and busyness took root and that chance to fulfill those scribbled words faded away with one phone call.
Only One other knew about that resolution and the guilt I would carry silently for many years. The One who knows All – every preconceived thought, every hidden emotion, and every tear that falls. And a little over a decade later, He decided it was time to put those scribbled words to rest and shed the weight of the guilt they carried. It wouldn’t be an easy process though.
I often joke with God that I could have thought of a dozen easier ways to teach me the lessons I would learn from my three year battle. But the truth is, He knows best and it often takes a mighty storm to wash away the restraints that chain us to this world. Even restraints that had been suppressed over a decade ago – ones I didn’t even know were still holding me back.
One fateful summer day my storm would start with a literal storm. That summer shower came quickly, blew ferociously, flickered the lights, and went away quickly followed by a clearing and strong rays of sunshine. That literal storm would mimic the one I would travail through. The rain would pour, the winds would hit me hard, it would get dark, but then He held out His hand and showered me with the light.
“Why did I put all of his gifts in a pile?” I thought to myself reliving the events that would forever change my trajectory. A diamond bracelet, two desk clocks, and my childhood piggy bank were put in a discard pile in a frenzy. All from him, my Dad. I wanted nothing from him. I wanted to be nothing like him and I would place the blame on him for what happened to me. He passed down his genes to me – his disease.
Truth is, my dad, he wasn’t a bad man. He had some skeletons in his closet, but who doesn’t? The stories my family tells of him are mostly good. He was generous. “He’d give the shirt off his back,” my sister would always say. “If he could turn a dollar, he’d buy it,” speaking of his golden thrift finds and his ever present entrepreneurial spirit. “Intelligent, like a genius,” she would say. “He was sarcastic, but in a goofy, hilarious way.” One of the traits all of his children inherited.
I didn’t have many personal stories of my Dad though. Out of the few memories I did have, only a handful were good ones. We didn’t have a relationship like he had with my older siblings. There weren’t calls on birthdays. There were gifts instead of visits. The last I talked to him was in December of 2003, the day before my college graduation. He wouldn’t be making it, but he would be sure to send me something. This was the first time I was truly mad at him and the last time would be towards the end of my difficult road to sold.
“My issues were irrelevant,” is how I always classified my thoughts. “Look around at the lives of others. I was never abused, mentally or physically. I just didn’t have my father’s presence in my life and that was okay with me, probably for the best. I had a wonderful mom and family and I never missed a thing. I didn’t need pity, certainly not self-pity. I was too busy to have time for “daddy issues.”
I never showed it. Showed that our lack of a relationship would hurt at times. I hid it and hid it well. Or so I thought.
But there is no hiding from God. And He decided it was time to send me some gifts – just not tangible ones.
But gifts that would help me check off that New Year’s Resolution.
And it started with the gift of Johnny Cash…
He is a Good God Even in the Midst of Hardship
There is this popular saying I see on the internet all of the time, "sometimes I just look up, smile and say 'I know that was you, God.'" Most days that exemplifies exactly how I feel and I remember to praise Him. During hardship that phrase sounds a little more like, "if that's you God, what the hell is going on?"
I couldn't see more than two inches through the fog of despair and grief in the midst of my trials, so it was impossible to even imagine that I would see or ever feel any gift birthed from the hardship. But with time -- in His time -- I did. I started to see things very clearly and I saw that He never left me, but He did leave me with some beautiful gold refined by the fire.
Looking back over your hardships that you have weathered in your life, can you make out some of the gifts that you received?
Maybe He softened your heart? Did He give you a view through His eyes? Maybe endowed your heart with more compassion. Did He place a new friend in your path? Maybe He helped you to forgive someone. Forgive yourself? Did you come out stronger?
Sometimes we get answers. Sometimes we feel or see the gifts that He bestows during those hard times, but other times we have to wait to understand. Sometimes all the ashes have to settle in order to see the clearing. Focus on the eternal, not on the temporary.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17, NIV)
If you are going through hard times or know someone that is, I highly recommend these Focus on the Family interviews (links below) with Lysa TerKeurst. Also, her new book "It's Not Supposed to be This Way" is a truthful account of drudging your way through life's trials. She focuses on God's goodness, but doesn't sugarcoat the ugly parts and she does some of it in a pretty hilarious way.
Having freshly licked the floor of hell, I can still give a report that our God is good. Our God is good at being God. -- Lysa TerKeurst
I had heard many songs by Eli Young Band, but never this one. I had even been to one of their concerts and don't remember hearing "Recover." It started playing right after I started shooting some very hard, terrifying questions to God about my situation. And well he answered. YOU WILL RECOVER.