I once heard that we all have moments of impact. Moments when your life changes either for good or for bad. I find myself reflecting back to a moment from many years ago, a moment that changed the way I dealt with hurt and hate. That moment of impact changed my whole view on what forgiveness really means.
From the time I was 7 I lived with my Aunt and Uncle. Although I lived with them, I still knew my parents. My Dad was abusive and my Mom neglectful. I wanted to shut them out of my life completely. My senior year of high school was when THE moment of impact happened. I can remember the day the phone call came. I had just come home from the football game and was still filled with adrenaline. I was positive no one could kill my happy attitude. Then the phone rang. My Uncle answered it and I watched his expression go from happiness to immediate confusion, then sadness. As he hung up, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and simply said to me, “Your Dad tried to kill himself. He is in the hospital right now and the doctors don’t think he is going to make it. Would you like to come with me to see him?”
All at once I felt a mixture of emotions flood into my body. I felt as though I was drowning with a decision that would impact my life forever.
I answered quietly, “Not right now…” I needed to figure some things out in my head. If my dad were to die that night, would I regret not going to see him one last time? Would I regret not being able to tell him that I loved him? Then finally, would I regret not being able to tell him that I forgive him? I took many things into consideration that night as I argued with myself whether I should go see him. Crumpling to the ground late that night I wanted to hold on to the things of the past. I then reflected on something I had been taught as a child. We are to forgive everyone. I instantly fell to my knees in prayer, asking God to help me to forgive my Dad, and to forgive myself for the hate I had been carrying for many years. As I did this I felt like I was being embraced in a warm hug; to my surprise I felt as though I had a huge weight taken off my shoulders. I knew in that instant that Christ was willing to forgive me and if he was willing to forgive me, I wanted to forgive my Dad.
I went to the Hospital that night and I sat next to my Dad. He was in a coma and I was in tears. I said it quietly and softly. “Dad, I want you to know that I forgive you, and I am sorry for being cold towards you for all these years. I am so sorry and I love you. I always have and I always will.” This particular “Moment of Impact” made me realize that forgiveness is hard. It takes time. I know that as I continually choose to forgive those around me, Christ is going to forgive me and lift the burdens off my shoulders. I knew then and I still know now, “Forgiveness is Key to Happiness.”