Today is my dad's birthday. If he were alive he would be 103 years old. This is my favorite photo of my dad. He was a poor immigrant kid whose alcoholic dad died when he was 2 years old. My dad had a rough life.
Dad also made life rough for us. He had a terrible temper and was unpredictable. One minute he would be happy, the next minute he would be furious. He frightened me and made me nervous. He was unkind to my mother. He mocked our Christianity. Sometimes my dad was very hard to live with. We never had a very good relationship, not when I was a child, and not when I was an adult. He was hurtful and rude, demanding and ungrateful. I avoided him.
That's the bad side, but like everyone else, Dad had a good side. He loved animals. He loved nature and everything about it - stars, flowers, streams and mountains and wild birds. He was always curious about how things were put together. He made gadgets that actually worked. He collected beautiful rocks from all over the Unites States. He was an artist and drew cartoons and made sculptures from old pieces of junk. My dad loved a good joke, a good story, a well-written poem. He was thrifty and hard-working. We never went hungry. I love nature too, and I collect rocks. A lot of the good things about my dad rubbed off on me, and for that I am thankful.
It wasn't until I could remember, and picture my dad as a little boy, that I was healed from much of the hurt he caused me and was able to completely forgive him, and even love him. This happened after he had died. You can hear more about this experience in my podcast.
People aren't born mean and angry and unpredictable. We all start out as children and our circumstances and choices shape us. I was unable to forgive my dad for the hurts he caused in my life but I knew I had to forgive! I knew that Jesus calls us to forgive those who have hurt us and I wanted to be obedient to Jesus. This photo helped me. In this photo my dad is a little boy. He is smiling, and you can't see it, but he has his arm draped around a calf. Later things in his life - sickness, a cruel step-father, terrible poverty - those and other things shaped my dad into an angry man. I was unable to forgive the man. But God helped me to forgive the boy.
Is there someone in your life you find impossible to forgive? Ask the Lord to show you that person as a child. It is easy to forgive a child! Remember that God came to us as a Child - small and weak and vulnerable. And remember that Jesus LOVES children. It may be hard to love an adult who has wronged us, but it is easy to love a child. Jesus showed us the way.
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I am a Catholic wife, mom and grandma. In 1995, after Bible college and a few years as an Evangelical Missionary, I was received into the Church at the Easter Vigil. These are my personal musings on Scripture, prayer, and living close to Jesus.