Forgiving Your Father

There is a toxic mindset in many black children because of what their fathers did or didn’t do. We can’t move forward as a people until we heal these broken hearts and fractured relationships. The anger and disappointment leaves an open wound which affects us significantly. Some of us talk about this but it’s in the form of a lament or a complain. But some never talk about it. Instead there is a pent-up set of feelings that have been sustained and nourished by our thoughts and meditation over the years.

It’s a difficult conversation to have because there’s so much pain involved. For some individuals your father is still alive and there are things you’d like to say to him but you can’t bring yourself to do so. Some of you have never met your father but you hear he’s alive. Still, for others, your father is missing or worse, dead and buried, you never got to say what you feel. Might I also mention, some brothers have a difficulty discussing and communicating emotions. A man might not even be able to identify, let alone share how he feels.

These thoughts and feelings shape our character and conversations.

IMAGE: memebams.com

We, men, become our fathers or do everything to not become our fathers. Still we can not escape the genetics, a part of him is in us. The truth is, fatherhood doesn’t come with a printed manual. There is no school or course or textbook on being a father. You do what you learned; what you saw, heard and read about. Yes there’s room for improvisation, you make up some of it as you go along.

Now, if the aforementioned is true for us, then it is true also for our fathers. They too are the product of their father’s genetics and the environment in which they grew up. So maybe they didn’t do all that they were supposed to because they were ignorant. It could be that simple, he did not know he was supposed to hug you. He certainly did not experience that with his father and no one showed him otherwise.

Then we come to those who choose not to stand up to their responsibilities. Either they were completely missing or they were present just in a material form. The excuses for such behaviour are many and varied. Time would fail to enumerate them all. The consequences however, are far reaching and multifaceted. There’s economic, academic, emotional and spiritual harm done to us. Importantly, this damage means that we become damaged parents too!

“I can’t breathe!” The words of George Floyd as that officer pinned him down with his knee on his neck. Many of us have been unable to breathe properly because the weight of what your father did or didn’t do is pinning your neck to the ground. The feeling remains with us because we keep it. Stress is defined as an adverse response to a situation. Stress is made by us. The weight or pressure we feel is self-made. This is OUR response to what he did.

Forgiveness does not wipe out your memory, nor is it a delete key for reality. The test of genuine forgiveness is not whether you remember the event, but how you remember it.”

Dr.Dick Tibbits describes the situation this way, someone is living in your head rent-free. The ill-feeling, hatred or whatever negative emotion is toxic to you who harbour them. The offender is not affected in the least. Walking around with all this poison slowly kills you. “If you want to move from a bitter life toward a better life, you need to understand that the past exists only in your memory.” Dr. Tibbits

It is time to breathe. To forgive means to give life, to live. Until we’ve come to the place where forgiveness is offered to our fathers, we won’t be able to truly live. This forgiveness is not about him, it’s about you. We have to get over the hurt, shame, guilt and pain of disappointment. This colossal mountain if left, will block us from ever becoming our fullest self.
 
Life does not offer do overs and for this reason, reconciliation must take place. Many of us are alive but we’re only existing in a flux of bad memories. Until we own our hurt and resolve these issues we will forever be in a knot. This Father’s Day, let’s make a first step toward healing in our community. The cycle must be broken so we can rescue the next generation of fathers and sons.
 
Forgive him.

2 thoughts on “Forgiving Your Father

  1. Good piece, well written. Until one experiences that pain, the reality cannot be assumed. That pain becomes worst after looking into the tiny eyes of your new born child, that love and care for this flesh of your flesh and blood of your blood worsens rapidly. TheoThe result… you now despise him further. Many of our fatherless journeys are very different, imagine crave for the attention and when you reach out at age 12, your efforts are crushed by that man you crave. When you become a man, and independent and flourishing, you wish, but you hurt and you may reach a point where you tolerate, but you may never forgive. Your personal experience will dictate how one moves on.

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  2. Powerful peice Astor. This speaks to me directly. I pray God will help me to put all bitterness aside and make amends for a better father son relationship. Thanks for this Sir Tate.

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