One of my main struggles growing up was accepting a church-going father who was abusive towards my mom, resulting in a very tense family atmosphere. Their frequent fights and quarrels made me feel ashamed to invite friends over to my house as I tried to keep my family circumstances to myself, afraid that my friends would discover that I come from such a broken home.
It was extremely difficult for me to reconcile the two sides of my dad, whom appeared so godly in church, to the point where he was approached to consider becoming a deacon; yet treat my mother so rudely at home. At times, he would continuously yell at my mom, using vulgar words and cursing her, and even on occasions throwing objects at her, breaking them in the process. On other times, he would kneel down before a portrait of Jesus (drawn by himself) several times daily to pray, appearing devout and God-fearing.
Because of this, my mother attempted about three times to take her own life. My most vivid memory of these incidents began when my mom started to remind me to be obedient to my other siblings when she’s no longer around. The next thing I knew was to see her popping an entire bottle of sleeping pills! After failing to stop her, I dashed frantically to my godmother for help, who lived a floor above us. Thank God for my godmother, who sprung into action - shaking off the pills from the firmly gripped bottle in my mother’s hand, and rushing my mother to the hospital to flush out the pills already taken.
Forgiving my dad for all the unhappiness and struggles in our family was something which I thought would never happen. Then one night in my mid 20s, I attended a Christian event where the speaker shared about the topic of forgiveness. He said that if a lady cannot forgive her father, then very likely, she will not be able to love her husband in the future. At the end of the session, he made a statement which caused me to tear - “If you find yourself unable to forgive anyone in your life, then maybe you need to come to the foot of the cross to behold what Jesus Christ has done for you on the cross. Forgiveness is possible at the foot of the cross.” Ever since I heard that message, I started telling myself that I needed to forgive my dad. But I still couldn’t do it then.
Some time later, my dad started to suffer from mental problems, but refused to seek treatment. Yet, the problems became so serious that my mom had to call up a psychiatrist to make a house call, who managed to sweet talk my dad to follow him back to his hospital to be admitted. That night, this strange feeling that my dad had “left our home” overcame me as I wept all night. I was astonished that I actually missed him and felt really sorry for him to have to be hospitalised at a mental hospital. It was that night which I realised I had forgiven this “failed father” as all those years of accumulated anger against him dissipated. In the following months, I visited him almost daily and spent time with him, driving him home when the doctor signalled that he was back to normal.
Years later, my dad suffered from a very major stroke, causing him to lose his speaking ability and immobilizing the entire right side of his body, and entered to a nursing home. Over his eight years there, a distant relative visited my father regularly. She told my mother that he was actually suffering inside as well, surviving physically but not living a meaningful or purposeful life. Consequently, my relative asked if there was any unfinished business my dad needed to do before we start praying for God to receive him Home.
Upon this relative’s urging, my mom confronted my dad, telling him that she has forgiven him for all the wrongs he had done towards her in the past. As my dad broke down in tears despite his partially disabled and mute state, we could tell that afternoon that he had repented, and made peace with both my mother and God. A couple of weeks later, he passed on peacefully, going home to his heavenly Father.
To God be the glory for helping me to overcome the wall of unforgiveness in my life. Without Jesus Christ as my role model, I would probably still be hanging on to my anger towards my dad. I know my dad repented from his follies during those 8 challenging years, and probably also received his forgiveness from God Himself and is now safe in His arms. I now find myself looking forward to be reunited with dad again some day… to be in a place where there is no anger, but always forgiveness.