Well, it has been a little bit since I last posted. I have started several blogs, but I ended up writing long sagas so I sat them aside. Then, there was this. It was clear I needed to share and what better day than Father’s Day..
I used to hate father’s day. I mean despise it. I didn’t really care to go to church that day, nor did I care to be around anyone on that day. My level of dislike for Father’s day went right up there with Father/Daughter dances. I couldn’t care less.
All the well wishes to great fathers did something to me.
Seeing people give their mother’s praise for raising them in place of an absentee father- though I was guilty of this as well- it did something to me.
Truth was I was BITTER!
Well, recently I stumbled upon the first official letter I sent to my father. Previously, I had sent him an invite to my high school graduation, but it came back. Apparently, I had put the wrong address on the envelop. I was crushed. Despite knowing that he probably wouldn’t show up, I still wanted to give it one shot. See, I know who my father is. I know his name, his address, his wife’s name, and most of his siblings names. Yet, I was never privileged to know him as Daddy. Every year, as Mother’s Day ended, another wound was open. Every year, I was reminded of what a great father is and how I never had one. I just had a man that my bitterness came to call “sperm-donor”.
Back to the letter, I still remember the day, that I came to realize I could not live in bitterness any longer. I had to be set free. I was tired of seeing my emotions out of control and being battered by the thoughts within my head. I was really ready to let him know how I felt about his absence. I was to be attending his brother’s wedding in the days to come. It would be the first official sighting of my father I had since I was a baby. Yes, though he lived close by, I could not tell you what he looked like. For all I knew, he looked the black guy from the Allstate commercials. Anywho, back to the coming to the space of reaching out to him. I sat down. I began writing a letter to him.
The Power of the Pen
I wanted my father to know how well I was doing in life… without him. I wanted him to see for himself what he had missed out on. But it hadn’t dawned on me, until a few years later, that I was about to see him and his wife face to face at this wedding. I did not want this to be the first real encounter and miss the opportunity to unleash my hurt back onto him and her. So, I began to write my feelings on paper.
My goal was to release the hurt. I was tired of living with the thoughts of harming myself and others out of anger. Here was my chance. Pen in my hand. Words started to flow and so did the tears. “First draft,” I said as I signed off on it. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Though it was filled with ungodly, hurt filled words towards my father and stepmother, it was my truth. The anger and hurt poured out on the tear-stained lines. I was pleased with my unleashing, but I knew it could not leave my sight. There was a lot of truth on those pages. It was as though my heart had bled out. “I forgive you” was there in blue ink.
Now, I knew was ready to begin the real letter. The one I would later send out. I wanted to him to know how I felt about his absence. I wanted my stepmother to know how I felt about her role in the process as well. However, I did not want to do more damage. I tried to play nice. Still, in my bitterness, I spewed out an overview of my hurt but with a little less sting. The unforgiveness I held in my heart was now out, longing to be healed.
I sent that letter to them without knowing if it ever arrived. My uncle’s wedding came. I found myself sitting across the church aisle from my stepmother. I only knew that because she stared at me the whole time. So, yep. There was my answer. They got my letter. Well, at least she did. I was pleased. Soon after, I was face to face with my father. My nose made it very clear I was his and he was mines. I realized I am almost a spitting image of him. I chuckled at God’s sense of humor. He made me to look like the man that seemed to want nothing to do with me. A man that had it not been for my mother forcing him to, he would have never spoken to me that night. All I got from my father was a simple “hey”. Surprisingly, I was okay with this. It signaled that healing could begin. I went on to write more letters to my father, even invited him to my wedding and college graduation. He never came, but healing did.
Learning What True Forgiveness Is
Forgiveness was not a cute process. It was ugly. Flat out, down right ugly. With every layer of forgiveness I achieved, a new level of hurt was uncovered. What I thought would be an easy process of simply saying “I forgive you” was a drawn out process. However, along the way, I discovered real forgiveness.
Real forgiveness is not about the person. It’s about you. This was about me and my need to heal. I began the process wanting to hear “I love you. I wished I would’ve done more to be in your life” from my father. Those words are yet to be heard. What I have experienced is love from the countless men that God sent in his place: my uncles, my stepfather, the many men from my small church back home, and the blessing of extra motherly (aunts, church family, and friends of my mom) figures to make his absence less painful. As the healing took place, my love and understanding of God was deepened. I learned to worship Him more for the trying moments and rest in the peaceful days.
It has been about 10 years since that original letter. I still wish my father the best and have an open place in my heart for him when and if he is ready to step into his role. My bitterness is now filled with love. Forgiveness is still going on. I told you there is layers to this, but the anger has moved on. But this day… It now brings me joy to see the amazing fathers receiving much needed love.
However, I am still saddened to see those mothers and daughters, who like I once was, are burdened by the hurt of their father’s absence fill my timeline on Facebook.
Join me tomorrow evening at 7 PM CST as go live to talk more about the process of forgiveness on the Fit Women of God Facebook page.