Like other holidays and special days, Father’s Day can be especially hard for those who are mourning the loss of a loved one.
For the first time I have realised the pain and the loss that many people will feel in the run up to and on this day. As I see my children’s excitement at having a day to honour their father I think of children who have lost their father’s at a young age or older like us and are struggling with the loss. I also think of people who may never have had a father in their life.
Fathers play a pivotal role in the lives of their children. They are the head of the family and provide spiritual and physical covering for the family.
There are issues that we need to deal with so that we can have peace within ourselves , remember our loved ones with fondness and good memories and enjoy the fathers who are still alive.
An emotion that many of us experience when it comes to remembering loved ones who have passed on is regret.
Regret is a feeling of sorrow, disappointment, distress, or remorse about something that one wishes could be different. It’s a sense of loss and longing for someone or something gone or passed out of existence.
It is so easy to go back and relive memories that we are not proud of. Satan will do anything possible to get at us mentally. Regret can be a devastating monster if we do not keep it in check. Regret can keep you in a mental prison . It can keep you focused on what you should have done,could have done didn’t do and not what you have done , what you have achieved. Regret keeps you bound and focusing on the negative in order to cloud your view of the past and to limit your potential.
I have lived in the diaspora for the majority of my adult life and as a result I have had regrets about keeping in touch with my father. I wish I had called more often , visited more often , sent more money. Sharing my own experience with other people I have realised that there are some people who were unable to even see their parents since they got onto the plane to UK or USA. There are parents who have died and been buried by strangers because their children are unable to travel home. There are refugees who have not been able to return to their country of origin. Not being able to send money for medical treatment when parents are ill. Many of us carry feelings on regret and guilt. These feeling can overwhelm us when we remember our parents.
I struggled for many years with regret of not having done things the “right way”. I was always Daddy’s girl and know that I really dissapointed him when I got married “early.”My father had an expectation that I would finish Uni , work focus on my career and then eventually get married . I spent years trying to make it up to him to make him proud. I didn’t realise that he was already proud of me , proud of the mother I had become , proud of the maturity I had shown , proud of the transition I made in living in the UK. He was proud of me but I spent years and years in bondage ,bound down by regret . I focused on the mistakes made by a 21 year old instead of seeing all the positive things that I had done and seeing the amazing woman I had become.
The bible in Philippians 3:13 says “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
It is important to forget what is behind. We have no control over the past , we have no control over our own actions or mistakes that have happened in the past. We have control over here and now .Control over what we can do today.
So, if you have regrets, give them to God in prayer. Ask Him to walk with you as you move through these regrets and most importantly, if you have not repented, wait no longer! If there are issues that you need to repent about and ask God to forgive you then do it . The bible says that if we confess our sins he is just to forgive our sins. If there are issues that were in our control then we need to let it go. Confess it , talk about it and then let it go .
The bible encourages us to focus on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ( Phillipians 4 vs 8).
Focus on the positives not the negative.
Another issue that keeps many of us bound is that of forgiveness.
We all have emotional wounds from our fathers. Some are small and some are bigger. Some fathers have been absent from their children’s lives and when it comes to Fathers day it is a stark reminder of their absence. Some fathers were abusive to the children. There are children born out of adulterous relationships and have never known their fathers. Some fathers abandoned their children and did not support them financially. There may be residual feelings of unforgiveness even after death. In order to have peace we need to let go of any feelings of unforgiveness so that we can live in freedom.
Mark 11:25, Christ tells us,
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgivehim, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
In Luke 6:36-37, Christ admonishes us,
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
Forgiving them doesn’t change the facts of what happened between you, or make the gravity of their mistakes or offenses — or ours — any less.
Forgiveness changes us. Grace allows us to choose to leave the judgment of the offenses, or the pain, in the hands of God, and allows us to cling instead to the mercy of God. Mercy and grace restores some measure of what we have lost by helping us let go and move on. Mercy combined with forgiveness helps us transcend hurts.
I know some people who have made vows to never ever forgive . The hurt is too much and holding onto it gives a sense of satisfaction . It might feel like you are punishing that person but the funny thing about unforgiveness is that the only person who it affects is YOU! Someone once said holding onto unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die !
Holding onto unforgiveness leads to bitterness . Bitterness can lead to a lot of illnesses disease , unhappiness . Bitterness is toxic. It affects our current relationships. A bitter is so sour and unpleasant to be around. It affects the unforgiver.
Someone might be thinking I don’t know how to forgive. The bible has some great advice on how to forgive .
Firstly Choose – You will never forgive if you wait until you feel like it. It’s a conscious choice that you have to make .Choose to obey God and steadfastly resist the devil in his attempts to poison you with bitter thoughts. Make a quality decision to forgive, and God will heal your wounded emotions in due time .
Secondly Rely – You cannot forgive without the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s too hard to do on your own. If you are truly willing, God will enable you, but you must humble yourself and cry out to Him for help. In John 20 vs 22 Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit!” His next instruction was about forgiving people. Ask God to breathe the Holy Spirit on you so you can forgive those who have hurt you.
Thirdly Obey – The Word tells us several things we’re to do concerning forgiving our enemies:
a. Pray for your enemies and those who abuse and misuse you. Pray for their happiness and welfare (see Luke 6 27-28.
The bible tells us to Bless and do not curse them Romans 12vs 14 You cannot walk in forgiveness and be a gossip. You must stop repeating the issue that caused you to feel offended You cannot get over it if you continue to talk about it. Stop talking about it .
This Fathers Day if you have any unforgiveness towards your Father both those are are gone to be with the Lord and those who are living CHOOSE to forgive ! Make a decision to forgive Let go of regret forgive yourself and start a journey into your FREEDOM!