Some time ago, a young man confided in me that his father was trying to reconnect with him and that he wanted nothing to do with him whatsoever. I could hear the hurt in voice, see the pain in his eyes as he tried to hold back the tears. Then he just blabbed out “I hate him – I Hate him”. “He abandoned me when I was six years old. It was my mom who raised me, cheered me on at my games, helped me learn new things and was the shoulder I cried on when I broke up with my first love”.Unfortunately, in today’s court of public opinion, it is automatically assumed the father was bad for leaving. By no means do I support a child growing up without a father but we do not always know the issues. Having stated that I also believe that most issues could/should be worked out.
Some other reasons why children and children who become young adults hate their fathers include but not inclusive:
- Sexual Abuse;
- Physical, mental or emotional abuse;
- Father makes mommy cry;
- Father is controlling;
- Constant criticism – very little support;
- Father makes you feel guilty;
- Separation, abandonment, divorce;
Any father can give the impression they don’t love or care about their child when:
- other dads attend sporting events to watch their children play, but you don’t;
- other dads spend time going fishing or playing ball with their kids, but you don’t;
- other dads talk and laugh with their children, but you don’t;
- other dads tell their kids they love them, but you don’t;
- other dads seem like “real” dads, but you don’t;
- If you don’t express your love for your child both verbally and demonstrably, don’t be surprised if they don’t express love for you either;
If your child thinks, rightly or wrongly, that you hate them, there is every possibility they will mirror that emotion and hate you right back.
The title father should be designated to the person raising the child and not necessarily the person who assisted in creation if not the same person.
Today we are going to talk about reconnecting with a father that was not there. Let’s be clear on one matter though, if you have a step dad that has raised you and you refer to him as dad this does / will get a little more complicated and way out of the scope of this message. Lets also be clear that just because your father was bad or abandoned you doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have some or all the characteristics of a father or that you may/may not know the whole truth.
Let’s get started by remembering God’s command to fathers:
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it”,
But let us also remember:
1 Corinthian 16:13
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong”,
Recognize the Loss
Before you can do anything to restore a relationship with an absent father or one that was not a good father. The first thing you really need to determine is that this is something you really want to accomplish. You must consider no matter what you do, the father may not want any part.
Once you have decided this is what you want, you will need to list all the faults that you have against the subject father. For this to work you need to recognize all faults.
Now we need to let go of our negative feelings that you have for all those faults you added to this list. You need to be able to forgive these faults with yourself.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you”,
“But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”,
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”,
We must consider at this stage that we may also choose not to move forward. This may be for any number of reason including but not limited to:
- Can’t physically locate the father;
- You feel you may never get pass the hurt;
- There is a step dad involved;
- Family security may be an issue;
- You have been instructed not to pursue the matter for logical reasons;
- Your father has indicated he has no interest whatsoever;
I know of a young man who was raised by one step dad for the first seven years, and then a second step dad from that point forward. A full-grown adult who located his biological father a few years back. Several people including his mother approached the biological father to arrange a meet and greet but he wanted no part of it. Several phone calls went unreturned. This young man has moved on.
It’s slightly ironical that the first stepdad still enjoy time together and the second stepdad is the one that shows up to family events. So here the son reached out to an abandoned father who had no interest. So, the biological father not only loses the chance to get to know his son, but also the chance to meet his grandchildren.
I personally believe at this point that if you choose not to move forward that you should go forward with these steps anyway. You may not be able to physically forgive your father at this point, but it will put you on a better spiritual journey and if should the opportunity arise at a later point you are on a better track.
Your Spiritual father
You are ready to move forward but you need a partner to help you through this. The person that I refer to is of course God. We take everything or at least we should take everything to God, so why not take giving forgiveness to Him as well.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me”,
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you”,
We need to remember during this stage that our best confidant is the lord. He will listen to your concerns without interrupting and he will guide you to the right solution. Now unlike sitting their discussing this with your best friend or a relative, you can’t see him or hear him but he there.
1 John 3:1
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him”,
Because Jesus died on the cross paying the ultimate price for our sins, we have all been adopted into the family of God.
“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”,
Forgive Your Father
At this point you have listed all the faults you have against your father. There may be one big one, a few or a long list. You have gone to the Almighty Father for His support and guidance. Now we are at the stage we have been working for.
I will tell you right from the start that to forgive your father will be one of the hardest things you will do. To do so you are basically dismissing all the faults that you listed above and will have no claim to such faults again.
Forgiving your father will not replace the pain you have suffered from the wrongs committed against you. The sadness you felt when you looked up into the stands when you hit that homerun and he is was nowhere to be found after promising you to be there. How about the horrid feelings of fear, guilt, confusion leading to depression and isolation from the abuse you encountered at the hands of your father.
There are two sides to forgiveness. The first is your forgiving your father and the second part is your father needs to acknowledge the wrongs and apologize. The forgiveness part is for your benefit and not completing this task will affect your life negatively. Remember God will one day right every wrong.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true”,
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you”,
Just remember you have the Lord with you on your side when you come face to face to your Father. Depending on the person, different faults may be harder to forgive for some than others, but you will be glad you did.
At this point let’s look at the process of forgiveness:
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you”,
We need to forgive because we are all sinners and God instructs us to do so.
How many times are we to forgive someone? Jesus tells us in:
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”,
2 Corinthians 2:5-8
“If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him”,
We must remember that love will lead to forgiving others.
1 Corinthians 13:4 – 6
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth”,
Forgiveness a Priority
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift”,
Judge not – Forgive
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven”,
“When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”,
An Excellent Example of Forgiveness
“While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep”,
Follow Jesus – He Is Our Ultimate Leader
How about following the leader? Jesus is an excellent leader.
“When they came to a place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”,
The bible instructs us to forgive others as Christ forgives us.
“So, watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him”,
Now that you have forgiven your father as well hopefully you understand the process of forgiveness. However, for this process to be complete, your father needs to realize that he done you wrong and willing to apologize. This may not be a continuous flow, there may be time between the forgiving and the apology. In some cases, the apology may never come.
I believe that your life must will be blessed through forgiving others. Would you like to choose to forgive for the benefit of others? Maybe your decision can bring an opportunity of redemption for others
Pray for Your Father
The final step of this process no matter what happens in any of the steps above is to pray for your father. Now this could be in your daily prayer time or during time with your father if the above was a success.
We must remember the fifth commandment:
“Honor your Mother and Father”,
The problem here is that it really did not come with any specific instructions. Therefore, that is a hard commandment to follow with reference to your father if he was not a good father or an absent daddy. When a father adheres to his responsibilities of a father, we all know what that looks like. However, we are also the first ones to judge, criticize, and jump on the band wagon when a father abandons their child or treats them in inappropriate ways.
One way every person can honor their father, no matter the type of father they have, is to pray for him. This is one of the greatest things we can do on their behalf. In prayer, we can pray for the man God intends for him to be. We can ask God to move mightily on his behalf and alter the trajectory of our father’s life for the better. For some of us, we may be the only person willing to pray for fathers. If this seems difficult, a practical suggestion would be to write your prayers out. Make a conscious decision to pray for his health, protection, provision, his relationship with God, and his relationship with you. In praying for him, God changes our heart too.
Often prayer gives us a level of compassion for our father that we would not have otherwise. Thus, we are given the gift of perspective, enabling us to see our father as a human being rather than through the lens of disappointment. When this supernatural work happens in our lives, God enables us to love and honor our father in a way that would otherwise seem impossible. Therefore, it says in
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”,
Our prayers honor our father in ways we may not be able to with our actions.
I want to leave you with this story that is assumed to be written by HG Wells but has been reprinted several times by Dear Abby. There are many versions to this story from over the years, but I will use this one today:
A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.
As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautifully wrapped gift box.
Curious, and somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man’s name embossed in gold. Angry, he rose his voice to his father and said, “with all your money, you give me a Bible?” and stormed out of the house.
Many years passed, and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day.
Before he could decide, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.
When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father’s important papers and saw the still gift-wrapped Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined a verse,
“And if ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father which is in Heaven, given to those who ask Him?”
As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words PAID IN FULL.
It was not that long ago I had a young man say to me “I have no clue who my father is. I love the chance to ask him why or even to forgive him but instead I grew up fatherless but hey I turned out alright”.
Let me close with this quote from an unknown author:
The first to apologize if the bravest The first to forgive is the strongest The First to forget is the happiest