Just over two weeks ago, my father fell and suffered a major head injury. This injury ultimately led to his passing on November 21st (view his obituary). The rapidity in his decline was not expected. My dad had several major health incidences over the past years (cancer, heart disease, strokes, uncontrolled diabetes, etc) from which he always bounced back. Having been through so many of these, his quickly succumbing to the effects of the fall was very surprising to me.
As I prepare for his memorial service today, I have been reflecting back on my years with him.
Growing up, my father was not an easy man to live with. However, he did have a large impact on the person I am today. As a child, I would often retreat to a hidden quiet spot in the basement of our home to avoid his unwanted words and action. In this space, I would try to be as quiet as possible and thus kept several books, including some of our encyclopedia set, to occupy my time. My time was spent learning new facts and information, which ultimately helped me succeed in school. To this date, I don’t think my father every knew that I had a hidden spot high on the storage shelf behind several large boxes.
As a high school junior, my father’s personality contributed to my decision to graduate from school a year early and attend college as a seventeen year old. There were many things that my father had said and done that were inappropriate. My life’s goal was to personally and professionally excel and make my own path that would be different from the path my father would have preferred. College seemed an excellent way to accomplish this.
While in graduate school and for several years after graduating, I pulled away from my family, focusing instead on my career and raising my own children. The things my father had done were wrong and I wanted no part of it.
However, as an adult, I have learned that we all have the ability to live a lifestyle of forgiveness. The depth of forgiveness we have received in Jesus can be the foundation for our own love and forgiveness. In order to love to greater depths, we must continuously reflect on God’s overwhelming forgiveness and mercy to us.
In Him we have . . . the forgiveness of sins . . . Ephesians 1:7
I realized that I cannot change the past. But, I could forgive my father and create a new future for us. So, over the past ten years, I have rebuilt a relationship with my father. Our relationship was not a strong father-daughter relationship. But, I did love my father, spent time with him and will miss him.