It was at a retreat that I found it possible to forgive my dad. Life as a child in my home was not as it should have been. I was sexually and emotionally abused for many years by my dad. Once I became a Christian, as much as I tried to forgive him, the past would keep coming back to haunt me. I know now, in my own strength I could never get past the trauma. I couldn’t imagine any father being good and without realising it I had projected my assumptions about ‘fathers’ onto Father God. This conflict was so intense that I struggled even hearing the word Father God, let alone saying it.
While still in turmoil about my fractured past I was contacted to help two children who had accused my father of abusing them. I couldn’t say no. It became a 4-year soul destroying court process. Every day it seemed a piece of my life was displayed for the world to see. Raging emotions had to be kept locked up to achieve the outcome that was necessary to protect others from my father. I was separated from family for years during the court process so as not to be seen as conspiring with them. I did not want anything to go wrong so other vulnerable girls in their own homes would be protected from my dad.
In facing the court process, I wondered, “would I be believed? Would truth stand?” I had no way of knowing. Going through these uncertainties changed everything in my world and I couldn’t do it in my own strength. I had to trust Abba Father. He knew.
Did I want dad to go to jail? No, I didn’t; but I wanted him stopped from hurting children. Justice did come through. He went to jail. His abuse was stopped, and his name was put on the national register.
However, then came another conflict, the guilt of putting my own dad in jail. As much as I hated what he had done to me and others, he was the only dad I knew, and I loved him. I was a mess. I now had to deal with what dad had done to me; what he had done to others and the guilt I felt for putting him in jail.
While on “The Father’s Heart” retreat I had time to reflect and ask God why I couldn’t get over the torment of my past. It was simple, I hadn’t released it to him from the depth of my heart, because I really did not know how to do that as God intended. It literally meant coming to God and to picture letting it go, with an honesty which acknowledged the pain, hurt, and anger my heart still harboured. I ranted at Him with an honesty which brought out into His light what was buried deep inside.
To let go, I physically threw my hands out to him, asking Him to take all that was in my heart, saying, ‘I can’t do this anymore’; and He did.
That moment began for me the process of learning to forgive and let go. I was to learn that forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. I learnt to accept Father God’s compassion, to heal my wounded soul and nurture me in His Fatherly love.
I was experiencing a storm of powerful emotions which at times felt overwhelming.
All the fear, anger, hurt and injustice I had experienced beat upon my soul like an angry sea, at times threatening to overwhelm me…. but, with my hand firmly in my Abba Father’s I walked on into the open spaces of His love with hope, courage and the certainty of His peace and presence in my life. Where once there was inner lack & emptiness, my cup became full.
My father was released from jail. When he died later, I received my father’s ashes, something I didn’t expect. I joined with my family to decide what to do with them. After many comments and suggestions, as well as a few laughs, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me and telling me, “You did nothing wrong when your Father was alive. Now you need to lay him to rest respectfully.” When I conveyed this to my siblings what I believed God was saying and they agreed.
We decided together how we would like this commitment ceremony of His ashes to be. One sister took over doing the flowers – we used daffodils representing forgiveness. Another sister that scattered the ashes, and I did the eulogy. I wanted it to be respectful and honouring to God; and it was. Thanks to our heavenly Dad this happened as He and I desired. Our God is extremely loyal and supportive to those who trust in Him. He guided every step and I believe all my siblings were proud of what they achieved on the day. They all knew they had done what was right & true before God. Forgiveness released such healing that day that I don’t believe any of us will ever be the same.
When we ask our heavenly Father to show us, truly show us what He wants, He will and does. He is such a loving and supportive Father. He wants us to be free of our trauma; free to live a life that can fulfil His plan and purpose for our lives.
Credit: Michelle Silva