I am always trying to teach my children about forgiveness. It is one of the greatest gifts you can give. God tells us to forgive and it is freeing for both you and the offender.
Yet, I have not exactly been a good role model in this regard. I have struggled with forgiving my own birth father for years. I have always had love for him because he is a part of me and my children. Still, I could not bring myself to forgive him for leaving me as a baby.
A parents love is difficult to define. It is insecure, crazy; it has no bounds. As a mother of three, I can tell you that my love for my children changes on a daily basis. It can be a worrying love, a proud love. It’s always an unconditional love.
It was hard for me when my first child was born to imagine how somebody could walk away from their own little baby and ignore the love a parent should naturally feel toward their children. I became angry with my biological father without ever hearing him out.
My older brother began to develop a relationship with him and I wanted nothing to do with it. Actually, I was mad at my brother for wanting to know his father!
Recently, I realized that we are all equal in mistakes. Maybe we don’t make the “big” mistakes, but we all make them. God forgives us and we should forgive each other.
In my mind, reaching out to my biological father would be a betrayal to my dad, the man who adopted and raised me. My dad and his wisdom made me clearly see the error of my ways.
One day while speaking with him, he said to me, “You have to forgive him. Give him a chance.” I was stunned by this. He went on to say, “Erin we all make mistakes; and don’t you think that leaving you has hurt him over the years? Give him your love and forgiveness. It is what God asks of you. Your children will not learn forgiveness if you do not display it daily in your own actions. How would you feel if something happened to him and you never had the chance to give him a second chance?”
That was over a year ago. The words continued to convict me, but I made no move towards forgiveness. It was only recently that I had a change of heart. I realized I was not angry with him, just angry that he missed out on being there. Despite our actions, God has a plan. I was raised by a wonderful man, a dad for whom I am beyond grateful. I could not imagine my life without him.
Suddenly, I realized I am blessed. I have the love of two fathers. Sometimes, family is not blood relation. We create family around those who are willing to be there. When God gives you a chance to forgive a family member, you should. By forgiving, you are teaching your children that past hurts do not define our future.
Our parents aren’t faultless, just like we aren’t. As a mother, I can tell you that I am not perfect. There are days when I do not even feel qualified for this job, raising three children and trying to teach them as I am still growing spiritually myself.
I’ve met parents who have walked away from their children. It’s not something I would do, but I now have great compassion for them. My own father has said he knew we would be better off. At the time, he felt he was not capable of giving us the lives we had because of our adoptive dad. He struggled with forgiving himself and said he loved us from a far.
I no longer judge him; and now I embrace him as a father.
Moving forward is the only direction worth going. Giving him the chance to know his grandchildren and his daughter has been a blessing to all of us. I treasure when he says, “I love you.”
It means a lot to me; and I believe him with all my heart, something I could not do not too long ago. Forgiving him has given me a new perspective on all of my relationships. Past offenses seem trivial now. I realize that my heart is open more than it ever has been; and I feel closer to God, my Heavenly Father, for it.
My children will see what love and forgiveness can do, rather than hear me preach it to them.
Children learn by actions. We all learn by God’s love.