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Growing up, my family didn’t celebrate Father’s Day. My parents divorced, after nine years of marriage, when I was six years old. My father was distant during the marriage, and he became even more estranged afterwards. When my father was convicted of murder and received a life sentence, it became solidified in my mind that I probably wouldn’t ever celebrate Father’s Day. My younger brother coped with this loss by giving his ‘arts and crafts’ Father’s Day gifts to mom. I coped by ignoring the day completely, as if it were any other Sunday. But that legacy of loss is being redeemed in a major way this Father’s Day.
Time - Father - Journey - Forgiveness - College
It took time for me to forgive my father. I began the journey of forgiveness as a college student by exchanging prison letters with him. It was difficult to write that first letter; I had to think long and hard about what to say. My mind struggled to find a way bridge the gap between time and memories that were lost due to his absence. Elated to receive his response letters, I would sit in quiet isolation, just in case I read something that compelled me to cry. It was a deeply emotional experience for me. Writing these letters led me towards a path of deep empathy, and ultimately, forgiveness.
After my father went to prison, I felt ashamed and guilty. But forgiving my father required forgiving myself as well. I learned to let go of the feeling that I was somehow implicated in his mistakes. I embraced the present, and reconciled with my father. Writing those letters helped me come to a deeper understanding of the traumas my father faced as a youth, and how he wasn’t able to break from his past. I realized that I...
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