CIRCLE OF FORGIVENESS
Ephesians 4:26 “In your anger do not sin”…..
Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
“I hate you!” shouted my angry sixteen-year-old self at my inebriated, alcoholic father one cold February evening. He had disappointed me again, and we had argued. After stalking dramatically out of the room, I left the house to go wherever small-town teenagers might have gone on Tuesday nights in the 1960s. Library? Play practice? I can’t remember. What I do remember vividly, however, is what happened early the following morning as my three siblings and I got ready for school. Our uncle, Mom’s brother, appeared unexpectedly at our front door bringing with him the devastating news that there had been an accident during the night, and Dad was dead!
As the world crumbled around my family, I internalized my grief and began to wonder. Wow! Was it possible that I had somehow caused this horrible event? I had sinned by lashing out in anger. And I had long blamed Dad and his drinking for everything that wasn’t quite right in my life and in my family. I had pleaded and bargained with God, praying fervently that the drinking would stop. Well, now it was stopped, but in a way that I certainly never anticipated. That self-assumed burden of guilt was heavy, but impossible to share. Bringing added pain was the knowledge that my last words to my father had been so hateful. Why had I been so mean? Did he know that I loved him? Could I ever be forgiven?
Biblical scriptures and my Christian faith eventually brought assurance that God, my heavenly Father, had graciously forgiven me for no other reason than that He loves me. Over time, as my family survived, and as I gained better understanding of alcoholism, it became easier for me to forgive Dad for all the ways in which he had failed us. I could only hope that Dad had forgiven me for my last angry words. Forgiving myself has been the most difficult of all, and I’m still working on it after all these years.
Prayer: Thank You, God, for Your endless grace and forgiveness. I ask, as did the psalmist in Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”
Contributed by Judith Keller