Freedom to Forgive

Guest Post by Dana Arcuri
{Continued from yesterday’s Search for Significance

With tears flowing, I accepted Jesus into my heart and soul. Excited about my new relationship with my Savior, I jumped feet-first into my new faith. When the opportunity arose to attend a church women’s retreat, I grabbed the chance.

This was to be the crucial turning point where the Holy Spirit gently nudged me to forgive my father for not living up to my expectations. After hearing a powerful testimony at the retreat, I learned what God’s Word said about forgiveness. The Bible says we are to forgive those who hurt us because Jesus first forgave us.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

At this early stage in my Christian journey, forgiveness did not come easy. Birthdays and holidays would come and go, yet my father rarely contacted me. I once received a birthday card that said, “To my lovely granddaughter”. Granddaughter? The incident cut like a knife.

Despite my earnest effort to repair a damaged relationship, I was continually disappointed in my father’s lack of interest. Anger, bitterness, and resentment continued their stronghold on me. Although I desperately desired to forgive my dad, I struggled with the issue for years. Each time I prayed about it, unexpected new circumstances arose to justify negative feelings.

Years passed before I confronted my lack of forgiveness regarding my father. God uses creative methods to convict us, and in my case the Lord used the captivating book The Shack to bring me to my knees in forgiveness.

In March of 2009, I was reading this book when I felt led by God to restore my broken relationship with my father. Strange as it may seem, The Shack shook me to the core. One sentence dramatically spoke to me:

Forgiveness is for you, the forgiver, to release you from something that will eat you alive, that will destroy your joy and your ability to love fully and openly.”

That is when I realized forgiveness is not about right or wrong. Forgiveness does not excuse an individual for sinning or harming others. Rather, forgiveness is a choice that ultimately leads to freedom and healing. I no longer wanted my life drained of passion, joy, and love. I no longer wanted to allow unforgiveness to steal future blessings God had in store for me.

Truth be told, I absolutely did not want to forgive my father. However, Christ compelled me to obey. I urgently sought God’s forgiveness and prayed He would help me to forgive my dad. (Mark 11:25)

Humbled, I wrote a letter of forgiveness without expecting anything in return. The purpose of forgiving my dad was not to receive his love, acceptance, or attention. Rather, it was meant to set my broken heart and soul free—to surrender my dad to God.

I immediately sensed a peace like nothing I’d ever felt. It was as though a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders. My Heavenly Father graciously reassured, “Look at the birds of the air; thy neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26

God reminded me that whether or not my dad ever responded to my letter of forgiveness, I am significant to Him. He tenderly wrapped His loving arms around me to restore my broken heart and soul. He filled a lifetime of emptiness to make me whole.

What happened thereafter was close to a miracle. My dad responded by sharing that he had always loved me, despite our long distance. Most touching of all, he prayed for my forgiveness and was rejoicing over the answer to his prayer.

By the grace of God, I am celebrating a restored relationship with my dad. Father’s Day is now a meaningful reminder of how significant I am, not only in my earthly father’s eyes, but in the eyes of the Father who created us both.

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P.S. We’d love to know your thoughts; be sure to share in the comments section below. This month we will draw TEN winners from our commenters and the winners will receive one of these two  books, Hope for a Hurting Heart or To Let You Know I Care by our featured author this month, Cheryl Karpen

Dana Arcuri is a faith-inspired writer, contributing author, blogger and licensed beauty expert.  She is a passionate, heart-felt writer who provides her readers encouragement, hope and inspiration as she shares her love of Christ. Her articles have been published by Escalate Media for TotallyHer.com and she has been published as a contributing author in Inspired Women Succeed, released in 2011. Dana can be contacted by email at dana122163@comcast.net or by visiting her blog at http://writing4theheart-n-soul.blogspot.com/.

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

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