The deepest hurt I had was with my father.
I grew up in a household thinking, my mother loves me, but my daddy doesn’t. She was loving and kind and caring. He was distant. He didn’t come to things that were important to me. He didn’t talk to me – unless he was fussing at me. And I grew more resentful and bitter as the days went by.
I begged mother to leave him, but she never would. By his own description, he was a bullheaded lawyer, and he drank every night that I could remember.
My mother said she couldn’t talk with him. And if she couldn’t talk to him, how could I?
I grew up and became a staff member with Cru. Then I was at seminary-level class and the professor said something that I never heard before.
He read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
He said if God is love and if that’s what love is, then that’s the way God loves you and that’s the way God loves me. People had told me to put my own name the verses, but I always fell short.
God’s love toward me is patient. God’s love toward me is kind. God’s love toward me hopes all things, believes all things, bears all things.
When I left there, I thought about my father. I had been waiting for him to shape up, stop drinking and be nice. Then I would love him.
But it was as though God said to me, “Ney, you have more light. You have more grace. You have more understanding. You need to love first.” And as I loved him first, his heart began to change toward me.
This is going to sound melodramatic, but I remember sitting and thinking, what if I would go to my father’s funeral and I’d be sitting there looking at the casket...would I have any regrets?
And I thought, yes, I would regret that I had not asked him to forgive me for my unkind, ungrateful, unloving ways growing up.
So I went home to Shreveport, Louisiana. I said, “Daddy, I have been thinking about my growing up years and how unkind and how unloving I was. Will you forgive me?
He turned and looked at me from his chair, with a slight smile on his face, and said, “No. I don’t remember those things. Except for the time…” And then he named one time.
And so I said, “Will you forgive me for what you can remember?”
He said, “Yes.”
And eventually the day did come when I was sitting at the funeral home looking at his casket. I remembered when I didn’t feel like forgiving, I had chosen with my will to forgive. And on that day I didn’t have any regrets, except that I hadn’t chosen to forgive him sooner.
When we are hurt, we need to ask ourselves the question: Is my God bigger than my hurt? Or am I going to let my hurt be bigger than my God?
There are many things that are inexcusable, but there is nothing that is unforgivable.
(There are situations that need counseling. There’s a place for tough love. There’s a place for boundaries. Most often our response should be forgiveness, but there is sometimes a process to work through first.)
My father never asked me to forgive him. But God asked that of me and that made all the difference.
We are not most like Christ when we are perfect. We can’t be perfect. But we are most like Christ when we are forgiving.
Wherever we are in our journey of faith, we’re right on schedule. God is not surprised that we are where we are. We need to remember you are deeply loved by God with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love.
We cannot forgive on our own, but only by His Spirit living in and through us. He will give us his enabling power if we will just let Him.
When we bring God into the negative parts of our lives, we release His power to work.
To hear Ney expand on this concept, visit Revive Our Hearts.
We were created to belong, experience wholeness, flourish in hope and find a life-changing community. Our hearts desire these aspects of life because it’s how we are wired.
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