I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of mercy and supplication … Zechariah 12:10
Have you ever seen the movie “A Thousand Words“?
It’s a movie with Eddie Murphy as the leading actor. In this story, he is Jack McCall, a literary agent who uses his “gift of gab” to obtain various book deals. He tried to get a deal with a guru named Dr. Sinja. Jack stretched the truth to get the deal and the guru sees through his deceit. That night, a Bodhi Tree magically appeared in his backyard. Jack later on discovers that for every word he utters, a leaf falls from the tree. Jack found out from Dr. Sinja that when the tree runs out of leaves, the tree will die and so will Jack. Jack’s life starts to fall apart. His wife left him and he lost his job. As the tree starts to run out of leaves, Jack confronts Dr. Sinja on how to end the curse. Dr. Sinja advised him to make peace with all his relationships.
Jack later on visits his mother with dementia. She thought Jack was his late father Raymond. She starts talking about Jack and expressed how she wished Jack would forgive his father for walking out on them when he was a kid. Jack realizes this and goes to his father’s grave. The sky was dark because it was raining. With only 3 leaves left, he uttered the words, “I forgive you.” The leaves then fall to the ground and Jack suffers a heart attack and collapses. (Ending of the story to be revealed towards the end of the post. Stay tuned…)
So this was the movie I was watching about a week after I heard the news about what Dad had done.
And I suspect this was also the cause of Mom’s poor health at that time. It nearly caused her to have a stroke or a heart attack.
As I listened to my sister relaying the details on the phone, I thought to myself I’ve never heard her this furious before.
As for me, I started building walls around my heart again.
Like ripples on a tranquil pond that reach the farthest shore, our sins affect those close to us. And many, many more. – Anonymous
This wasn’t my first rodeo.
10 years ago, I struggled with forgiving Dad.
I found out a dark secret that shattered my image of him.
I was angry. I was so furious I didn’t speak to him for a year. Nor did I receive Holy Communion for a year.
I spent a lot of time with my shepherds asking for guidance and prayers.
I spent at least an hour in prayer everyday in the blessed sacrament.
It was a dark time in my life.
These feelings toward your father are like YOU drinking poison and hoping HE dies. – Derwin Gray, Hero
I don’t know how I was able to do it.
But finally, one day, I decided to forgive Dad.
Even though I was still feeling angry. Even though I wasn’t sure. Even though no one (even myself) thought he deserved it.
I guess I did it for ‘selfish’ reasons.
I just got tired of carrying that heavy burden in my heart. And when I was face to face with him and let him know I forgave him, the burden was lifted off my chest.
And I thank my family and friends who prayed for us.
Because I believe it was the grace of God that gave me the strength to do it.
A Year of Mercy
After mass, the priest approached us and out of the blue, he gave me and my husband this …
I then called my Dad afterwards to let him know I forgive him…again.
I forgive my father who taught me the importance of hard work.
I forgive my father who worked hard to put food on our table, clothes on our backs and a roof over our heads.
I forgive my father who was always proud of my accomplishments.
I forgive my father who taught me how to drive.
I forgive my father who gave me a $20 bill as I went abroad to do further medical training.
I forgive my father who never lifted a finger against me.
I forgive my father who let my mother’s parents, my grandparents, live with us so Mom wouldn’t have to worry.
I let go of any “right” to hold any blame.
In word and deed honor your father,
that all blessings may come to you. Sirach 3:8
I remember the first thought in my mind when I first read this – “I’m screwed…”
The thing is – the Bible never lies.
The Word is living and active – even in the 21st century.
Because when I forgave Dad 10 years ago, it was then that the doors of opportunity opened and my future became bright.
And when I forgave Dad this time…blessings are starting to come again like raindrops in the desert.
The same thing happened to the movie “A Thousand Words…”
When Jack fell to the ground, he seemingly died. But the tree miraculously started growing back leaves and even flowers.
And his heart started beating and he regained consciousness.
His wife took him back. He got a new job. And he wrote his first book which got published.
Kindness to a father will not be forgotten; it will serve as a sin offering—it will take lasting root. Sirach 3:14
I was fortunate I was able to achieve reconciliation again with Dad.
And I thank God for Mom, who has set up boundaries for Dad.
“When we begin to set boundaries with people we love, a really hard thing happens: they hurt. They may feel a hole where you used to plug up their aloneness, their disorganization, or their financial irresponsibility. Whatever it is, they will feel a loss. If you love them, this will be difficult for you to watch. But, when you are dealing with someone who is hurting, remember that your boundaries are both necessary for you and helpful for them. If you have been enabling them to be irresponsible, your limit setting may nudge them toward responsibility.”
― Henry Cloud,
I know some people have fathers who have passed away.
I know some are in circumstances wherein they cannot establish boundaries.
I know some offenses may seem small and some deserve justice in jail.
Whatever your circumstances may be, the most important thing is to achieve peace for your own sake. At least that’s what I’ve discovered 10 years ago.
“The Bible is clear about two principles: (1) We always need to forgive, but (2) we don’t always achieve reconciliation. Forgiveness is something that we do in our hearts; we release someone from a debt that they owe us. We write off the person’s debt, and she no longer owes us. We no longer condemn her. She is clean. Only one party is needed for forgiveness: me. The person who owes me a debt does not have to ask my forgiveness. It is a work of grace in my heart.”
― Henry Cloud,
There is no perfect parent.
As I tell my husband about these things, he would defend my father by saying, “Well, he must’ve done something right to raise good people like you and your sister.”
I am not a perfect parent.
I have children of my own. Two little ones.
I hope I would not bring them any grief to cause them to resent me or my husband.
But if I do, I hope I would receive the same mercy I have extended to my own father.
Because even if he has done wrong, I still find it soothing to hear my father’s voice.
And I know even if the world turns their back on me, my Dad would welcome me in his home and protect me.
And if I had a Bodhi Tree magically appear in my backyard, and if I had to carefully choose my words, the most important words I would say to my Dad would be …
I forgive you.
I thank you.
I love you.
Those who honor their father will have joy in their own children, and when they pray they are heard. Sirach 3:5