In my last post The Importance of Finding Your Hobby, I feel like I got a little personal at the end when I was explaining a few things about some of the friends I have, and it felt really good to just unload my thoughts and feelings on that even though it was kind of a side step to that blog post.
So today I decided I would give you another story about something I dealt with growing up that’s very personal to me and my story. It is another step in my journey of bettering myself and becoming the person I want to be, but it is listed here in Faith for reasons that you’ll find out below.
If I haven’t lost you yet, please stick around to the end because I feel like this topic has been so important to me and my life in the recent months.
This story goes back as far as I can remember. I can’t even tell you how old I was, but I remember night after night my parents fighting. I was too young to remember about what, and too young to really realize why. I just knew that it made me tense, upset, and scared to sleep on my own at night. My house was rarely a happy place to be in the evenings, and at that age you don’t know what normal is. So I just thought that at night, parents fought. That was that.
As I got a little older I remember going to a neighborhood restaurant and bar, and my best friend and I would get to play arcade games every Friday night. I remembered my parents calling it “Happy Hour”. Well, happy hour rarely ended with a happy hour. We’d get home, and more fighting would ensue.
I could get into so many stories where friends were at my house and they would start screaming, how things would escalate when it came to my dad’s other two daughters, so many different variables that I’m not going to bore you with. But either way, I still wasn’t at the point where I realized any of this was abnormal.
Then I got a little older, and I was finally understanding the fact that my father was an alcoholic. Sadly, not an uncommon thing these days. I remember being able to predict when my parents were going to fight, and it turns out I didn’t have a sixth sense as a seven year old, I just subconsciously could tell when a person was drinking and automatically associated that with arguing.
And as we all do, I got a little bit older, a little bit smarter, and the talk of divorce was in the air. “Finally”, was truly my only thoughts on the subject. Things just got progressively worse throughout middle school and high school. And more and more of me resented my father. Somewhere in that time the affairs (yes, with an s), were revealed and more and more straight up awful things kept happening.
And to add fuel to the fire, my father is a business owner who doesn’t do too bad for himself (and yes, I am a sellout and started to work for him when I was in college, and still do to this day, but it’s still a complicated situation). Money was always a huge issue. If you ever needed money, he would give it to you, but you would pay the emotional price for it. It was manipulative, but that was our family dynamic. I thought it was normal for moms to take actual interest in their kids and fathers just to show up and provide money when it was needed. I don’t want to be another girl who cries about her “daddy issues”, but truthfully as an adult I can see where those sorts of issues truly do cause lifelong consequences. And if a girl isn’t careful, she can easily be taken advantage of for those issues later in life. (I was one of those girls before I met my husband, but that is another story that I am not even close to being ready to share).
The divorce finally happened when I was 18, and luckily that was the least painful part of the entire process. My mother was finished, my dad had a girlfriend, and I was starting my stint in college and just doing my own thing. Sadly, the resentment I had in my heart didn’t fade, and I was much less likely to bite my tongue about it. I wasn’t exactly the nicest to my father out of loyalty to my mother and because of the mental state I was slowly realizing that he put me in. Luckily I was 18, and any and all visits to my dad and stepmom were on my terms and my terms alone. No one could make me do anything, unless it came to money.
I know that in my father’s eyes, money makes the World go ’round. Whatever, if that’s your aspiration, go for it. But it became something so much more than that when it came to our relationship. It became the art of mind games and manipulation. I would be told that he was going to help me out with something, but it would have to be on his terms. And if I asked when he was going to do whatever it was, I would get yelled at for being so greedy because he was helping me and I should “trust” that he would take care of it. It was just a bad situation that I realize now that I fed into. I played the mind games that he laid the cards out for.
My last act of true “defiance”, was decided to move away before I finished my last semester of college. He was infuriated. For those of you who don’t know, I was dating my now husband since my second semester of sophomore year. Because of transfer credits and all of that fun stuff, I was not set to graduate until December of 2017. I wanted to move in July of that year. Finally I was going my own way, and no sort of monetary threat was going to be hanging over my head. After a life of pleasing everyone else and feeding in to manipulative games, I was finished. I had met the love of my life and this was where it was going to come to an end.
So instead of scraping by or not finishing like he said I would, I was determined to prove him wrong. Not only did I push myself to graduate in August rather than December, I got a 4.0 GPA for both my spring and summer semesters. And while he never said it, I knew that my success was a kick to his face. He told me I wouldn’t do it, but I did it early and with a better GPA than I had achieved previous semesters.
I truly apologize for how long this post is getting, but I promise I’m getting to the point. Stick with me 😀
But then came the time when college was over, I was on my own, and I did my best not to ask him for anything unless it was an absolute emergency. My original thought was to cut him off completely after a few months of moving. I didn’t work for him at the time, my life was set up, and I wanted to remove every bit of negativity that came from that man.
But one church service changed it all for me.
It was a normal Sunday after we had just decided on our new church in our hometown. It was probably only the fourth or fifth time we had attended, but after day one we fell in love. And there was a service all about forgiveness. I cried that entire sermon.
Our pastor probably explained it a lot better than I am about to, but this is what I got from it. God does not want us to hold hate in our hearts. He wants us to to forgive people who have sinned against us, because in reality, it’s not our place to judge them anyway. It is His. And nothing will cause us more pain in our lives than to carry that hatred with us every single day.
That very hate weighed on me every single day, I just didn’t know it until that sermon.
I’m not going to pretend that something happened to me that day where I forgave everyone that has ever hurt me. Because it didn’t. I just learned something that God wanted from me that would really improve upon my life. It would take some of the weight I had been carrying as long as I can remember off of my shoulders.
It is still a conscious effort that I have to make, and some days are much harder than others. At this point, I am trying to separate being upset with my father about what he did to my mother, and what he did to me. I feel that it’s the first step I can take towards the bigger picture. I am so loyal to my mom for everything she’s done for me growing up, and it’s hard to not hate him for what he did to her. But truly it’s not my battle, and my mom understands my struggle with that loyalty and my own road to forgiveness.
I know how hard it can be to forgive someone who has hurt you. There are still people in my life (like the person mentioned in the side story above), that I haven’t forgiven, and that weighs heavy on my heart as well. And someday I hope to forgive them, appreciate the life lessons they taught me rather than dwelling on the negativity and hurt they made the center of my life.
But every day I get a little bit closer to forgiving my father. And I’ve never talked to him about this or anything, but maybe someday I will if I feel that it is a step in my forgiveness. I don’t totally trust him, and that is protection for myself and future family, but maybe one day I can really let the past go and just take it for what it is. I still work for him because he was nice enough to let me have my job back when finding a full-time job proved difficult as a Military wife, which I am thankful for. So he and I communicate regularly.
I do my best not to ask him for anything monetary wise, because that is just one more thing that can be held over my head and I don’t want to play those games anymore.
I can enjoy the visits I have with him whenever I am home. They’re not my favorite things to do, but on this journey I feel it is necessary to put in an effort to see him and try to enjoy some sort of conversation.
God showed me how much better I can feel without carrying the hate in my heart. And I can say I feel like my soul is lighter. Resentment and hate can bring out the worst in a person, and I never want that to be me again. I want to follow the road God has planned for me, and I don’t think I can truly do that with a heart heavy with hate from the past.
I want nothing more than to find God’s purpose for me, and I think forgiving those who have hurt me is the next step in finding and truly demonstrating my purpose for the Lord.
I hope that every day I am one step closer to that goal. No matter how hard it may be, no matter how many people I have to forgive when I don’t want to, and no matter how scared I am or tempted to take the easy way out. I know God will forgive me for any missteps or sins as long as my goal is the same.
I know this was one of my heavier posts, but I really felt it was important to share because of the journey I am on to a happier life. Leave a reply below if you are working on forgiveness or this post helped you realize the importance of it in some way. For more posts like this one (and a few that are a lot more light-hearted) please follow us on Twitter and Pinterest using the links below and/or on the home page!