Getting married is the easy part.
When I saw the look in my husband’s eyes the day of our small wedding, I knew he was in this for the long run. I walked down the aisle, clutched tightly onto the arms of the man who played an important role in raising me – my sister’s husband.
Yes, I wrote that correctly. The man whom I had grown up and turned to whenever I had a problem was not my father, but my sister’s husband.
Women all around the world have grown up without a present father, and I was no different, except that I was lucky enough to have a strong male figure in my life showing me what kindness and love looked like.
My mother and father were both pillars in my childhood church, my mom sang on the worship team, while my father was a worship leader with my mother’s best friend. We seemed like the perfect family: a mother and father who were madly in love with four children who were always prim and proper whenever there was a Sunday morning service and a Wednesday night bible study.
As you grow, you realize that these pillars of perfection harbor cracks from within the foundation.
At six years old, my father left the house with my two brothers and all their things. A few days later, he left our state and headed to Maryland with his mistress, who happened to be my mother’s best friend.
As I aged and began understanding the inner workings of what had taken place in my family, I had grown to be angry.
How could my father throw away eighteen years of marriage and his four children?
These questions haunted me for years. To this day, I still cannot tell you the answers.
Living with a single mom and a sister ten years older than me was difficult. I often felt out of place and unnoticed by everyone, even by my father when he did make a yearly visit.
When I turned fourteen, I had told my mom that I would never date a boy until I had gotten to college. I thought that maybe since my mom and dad had married at eighteen, he had missed his window of opportunity to date. I thought that young marriage meant that down the line my husband would cheat.
My plans were thrown out of the window when I met a wonderful boy at the age of sixteen.
As our relationship progressed and dating turned into being engaged a short year later, my anxiety of what happened to my mother’s marriage returned. I didn’t want to be a single mom with a litter of children. That thought scared the heebies out of me!
My fiancé was a wonderful man who had such a godly presence about him. We often prayed together and even visited the other’s home church on multiple occasions. Surely, he wouldn’t end up like my father, right?
I took to my secret weapon to find solace – The Bible.
PRAYER IS KEY
“But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” Psalm 130:4 (NIV)
What I had come to realize was that there was still malice in my heart. I needed to forgive my father for what he had done to my family. The anxiety of my pending marriage was a direct result of the actions I had witnessed as a child.
On bended knees, I let out a prayer that shook my core. I prayed to rid me of my anger, I prayed to forgive my father for his sins, I prayed to forgive myself for hating him and his mistress.
I just prayed.
With prayer, nothing came sudden. As much as I wished for the Lord to grant me forgiveness swiftly, my journey to peace took much longer than one powerful prayer.
What I had to learn was that forgiveness was a battle for my heart. Was I willing to remain bitter and blame all men for the mistakes of one, or was I willing to take this uphill trek to humble myself and absolve my anger towards my father?
With that, I continued to pray.
DO NOT COMPARE
As I traveled through this journey of forgiveness, I had to look long and hard at myself. What had started off as a journey to forgive my father turned into a deep exploration of myself. I had discovered that this one event in my life had engrained its way into every aspect of my life, from how I viewed young love, to how I viewed my own fiancé.
““In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.”
Jude 1:18-19 (NIV)
I realized that I had become a scoffer. I was following my human instinct of harboring anger and using that as a weapon. How had I gone to church every Sunday for most of my life and continue to hold such malice in my heart?
The second step on my journey was learning to not compare. All men were not cheaters, all men did not take away a marriage and a friendship, all men did not commit the same mistakes as my father.
Without knowing it, I had stockpiled a list of things that I continuously compared between my father and fiancé. This was a burden on our relationship because I had deemed him untrustworthy without giving him a fair chance.
Letting go of that list was extremely difficult because I was fearful. Once it was gone, I would be completely blindsided, but as I prayed and stopped the constant over-analyzing of his every action and interaction, I felt a newfound peace budding from within.
After a year of the war for my heart, I found myself completely at peace with everything that had happened in my childhood. I had learned how to love in a new different way which positively impacted my relationship with both my fiancé (now husband) and father.
As I said previously, what began as a long road to forgiveness became a road to discovering myself. Forgiveness was not an easy feat, but it was one of the most important battles I have fought.
My advice to you is to keep on trekking. Although long and hard, you will be grateful in the end, and the Lord will be pleased.