Day 17 Pursuing Peace-When Your Father Wasn’t Courageous

   Pursuing peace as a family means that Sundays we spend focused  time together as a family, our special habits as a family include Sunday  morning breakfast together with everyone rising a little earlier than necessary for 9:45 worship to be together in a relaxed schedule and then an afternoon of rest or on very rare occasions, a fun outing together. It is a way to make time to focus on our family and our time together as a family.  As part of the afternoon fare, we chose to make a family trip to the  movie.  Courageous, a movie about fatherhood is in our local theater, and we took our teens together with our neighbor children.  The movie is amazing and we highly recommend it (age appropriate for 12 or so and up, due to the nature of a few scary scenes and family issues) and it cored on the value of men being courageous about their lives and fatherhood.  I left the movie thinking, but 95% of the individuals I coach or work with on family issues are working from a perspective of their father in childhood wasn’t courageous…and where do you go when you’re that person and this movie just underlined and exclamation pointed how hard that is….what do you do with those emotions? How do you find the way to forgive that father?  The father who didn’t plug in, who continues to berate, destroy, or wound. Who is ever present through his choice to be absent as though you are not “enough” and have traveled many wrong roads trying to earn that status of loveable?

Forgiveness for a father who wasn’t courageous….it’s a place we are called as Christians to go. It’s a place of healing, of forgiveness, but long before those two places can be found one has to admit that the experiences happened or continue to exist.  Part of pursing peace is acknowledging those hurts, harms, and horrors that have happened to you actually did. So many of the women I work with are carrying the burden of shame, that they keep a secret that they were abused, harmed, ignored, neglected….afraid if you know it, you’ll abuse them or understand why someone else did and find them “not enough” too.  When your past includes someone hurting you, to be courageous enough to allow your numbed emotions to pour out of you is a step towards pursuing peace. To be fearless enough to know that life has to go on, but you have to be truthful to yourself about what you are feeling.  As Karen Rabbitt teaches in her own story of childhood abuse, Trading Fathers, there are stages of healing after abuse.   I find that it doesn’t matter whether you were sexually, emotionally, physically, abused, neglected or abandoned by your father, the truths and the damage done is all connected.  To find peace in your adult life you have to pursue the peace of forgiving your father. As Karen’s book discusses, to forgive dad and find God.

Pursuing peace in our lives means beginning where we are. Facing what we hold onto and what we are at unrest about. Pursuing peace doesn’t mean we simply choose to be content with things the way they are or were, but to pursue contentment in knowing we take to God those things we cannot handle. We seek the Bible’s guidance for areas of our lives we may not know how to face. If we are facing more than we can understand how to forgive, then its time to perhaps work with clergy, Christian counselors, and trusted teachers to work through the pain that we’re facing.  To have peace after you’ve been mistreated requires forgiveness and forgiving. The person who abused you or neglected you may not ever account for their actions, but we have to be able to forgive their actions to go on with our own lives.  When I personally am struggling, it helps me to visualize that I am facing an action that I can not easily or readily forgive in myself or another, I imagine that I take that issue and take it to the courtroom of God and ask that He grant me pardon for my part in what ever I cannot easily forgive and to help me release the burden of anger, resentment, pain, or what have you to that person, to allow me pardon in carrying that burden and to take it from me.  I can then so see my loving Jesus lifting the burden of that dead emotion (pain, humiliation, shame, resentment, etc) from my arms so that I can be free of it, to be forgiven and to pardon to His care the burden of being human and imperfect in my ability to forgive others. That pursuing of pardon for others who have hurt me releases my heart, it frees my soul to find peace. I am flesh, there are times the old hurt rises up in me again, and I have to repeat the process, but each time I find more insight from God on why and how that trusting Him to bear my pain is enough and He heals me.

The movie, Courageous, brings forward some statistics about why our society is hurting without the leadership of fathers in the home.  As an educator, as a parent, and as one who works with step and blended families weekly, I see the fruit of that truth.  Our children and youth need us to plug in to their lives. Our young people need mentoring, our young mothers need mentoring too. Millions of our young are facing life with and after a childhood with a father who was not courageous. Who ignored through his own pain the needs of his children and the woman he created them with. Who very often is the product of the same abuse and neglect himself. In our homes, pursing peace means understanding that God developed roles for us each to support in our families lives, and that love is the language it speaks. Forgiveness is a dialect that when engaged fully allows us to heal past the hurts we do inflict and were inflicted to a place of peace.

Could revisiting the emotions of unrest you are carrying in your heart have something to do with forgiving yourself or others?

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2 Comments

  1. “Part of pursing peace is acknowledging those hurts, harms, and horrors that have happened to you actually did. So many of the women I work with are carrying the burden of shame, that they keep a secret that they were abused, harmed, ignored, neglected….afraid if you know it, you’ll abuse them or understand why someone else did and find them “not enough” too.”

    Yes, and letting ourselves know the hurts and harms one’s father has done takes time and courage. And getting free enough of shame to admit how we’ve been treated–so challenging.

    Shame is the great lie of the enemy: “Something is irremediably wrong with you.”

    The truth is, it is a fallen world, so something is wrong with all of us, but nothing is specially wrong with you or me. If we feel there is, we have learned to feel that. Someone has taught us, by word or action, to feel defective.

    The Father-heart of God aches with the pain his children feel. That is true fatherhood.

  2. “Part of pursing peace is acknowledging those hurts, harms, and horrors that have happened to you actually did. So many of the women I work with are carrying the burden of shame, that they keep a secret that they were abused, harmed, ignored, neglected….afraid if you know it, you’ll abuse them or understand why someone else did and find them “not enough” too.”

    Yes, and letting ourselves know the hurts and harms one’s father has done takes time and courage. And getting free enough of shame to admit how we’ve been treated–so challenging.

    Shame is the great lie of the enemy: “Something is irremediably wrong with you.”

    The truth is, it is a fallen world, so something is wrong with all of us, but nothing is specially wrong with you or me. If we feel there is, we have learned to feel that. Someone has taught us, by word or action, to feel defective.

    The Father-heart of God aches with the pain his children feel. That is true fatherhood.

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