Excerpted from Ordinary People. Extraordinary Hope.™️
But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.
Maria’s early memories of her father were of a hard-working man who took pride in what he did and provided for his family. “My Poppy was my hero,” she recalls.
As the years progressed, Maria’s family dynamics shifted, and her father became overbearing and verbally abusive. Her parents divorced when she was 18 years old. It left her feeling lost and confused about who she was and what a father’s love should look like.
Maria severed her connection with her father and, from that point on, had no communication with him at all. She never talked about him, and many of her friends assumed her father had died years before.
Until one day, someone asked Maria if she had any places in her life where she was struggling with unforgiveness.
Her father immediately came to mind. She decided to track him down.
She discovered that her father was living in a nursing home. After divorcing her mother and leaving their family, he lived a life of gambling, alcohol, and self-destructive addictions. Maria was hesitant to see him again, but something inside kept nudging her.
When Maria walked into her father’s room, he was a shadow of the man she once knew. A recent stroke made it impossible for him to speak or even feed himself.
Maria was filled with compassion as she saw him there, bedridden and unable to care for himself.
At that moment, she knew the only way to live in peace was to forgive the man who had abandoned and hurt her. In a tender act of love, she fed him, updated him on her life, and held his hand. She then read to him from her Bible. He was able to communicate his faith in God to her with his weak speech and hand gestures.
Just a few weeks later, she traveled to Honduras to serve at an orphanage. She shared her story with the staff and girls, many of whom had been abandoned by their own fathers.
They were deeply touched and connected with Maria’s loss and the hope she found through forgiveness.
Maria could not get back all the years lost with her father. Still, she experienced hope by giving her father the same forgiveness God had given her.
It’s a forgiveness God offers to everyone.
Like Maria, have you ever struggled to extend the bouquet of forgiveness to someone? If so, what happened to that relationship?
Lord, please reveal places of unforgiveness in my life and strengthen me to pursue it.
Share your story of forgiveness with someone this week.