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Healing for fractured fathers

Letting go of the past for the sake of your children's future

Several years ago while in counseling dealing with my “issues” related to the loss of my mother and the experiences of my childhood, my therapist made a statement that shifted the way I think about my decision-making, my past, and my future. It was one profound statement: “...you have been making decisions based on your fractures and not your future. In other words, you are masking your pain by making decisions that make you feel good about you, but are not good for you. You are drawing people and experiences into your life based on unresolved past pain and not your purpose.”

She was right. I started working on myself and paying attention to my thoughts, behaviors and the people I was drawing into my life. Then I started making changes based on the fact that I had to be deliberate about dealing with the pain of my past so that I could fulfill my purpose and “overcome my fractures” so that they do not impact my future.

This is also important to my responsibilities as a parent, a father (a dad). If a fractured past is not dealt with and healed it will inevitably impact your children and their future. Some of fractures were the result of my broken relationship with my dad. He was not there for me as a child and when we finally did meet and spent several years together it didn’t go very well. As a result, I was angry. Angry because he was not there for me, angry because we did not have the type of relationship I wanted.

Learning to forgive our flawed fathers

I wanted a relationship with my dad like ones described in Scripture. I wanted a dad who would do whatever it takes to make sure that I was okay; a dad who never gave up on me, who believed in me. If you are like me, whether you choose to admit and acknowledge it or not, the anger towards your dad is impacting your life, relationships and yes, your children. But in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.”

In order to break the cycle you have to learn how to forgive and be willing to forgive. What is forgiveness? I’m not sure who said it but “forgiveness is letting go of the life that you thought you wanted.” It means that there was an idea of what life should have been like or could have been like, and because that life didn’t happen, you are angry. But you have to realize that life was never based on what was actually possible. It was not based in reality or facts. It doesn’t mean you did not deserve better, it just means that you cannot punish yourself or someone else for not living up to an idea. You have to “let go of the life that you thought you wanted.”

Like so many young people, my pain resulted in anger and my anger led to unhealthy behaviors. In as much as I thought I was over the painful experiences of my childhood I was not. I had only become really good at suppressing them. There was a part of me that I did not like. The part of me that was angry and ashamed that I did not have a good father. It was a part of me that told me I wasn’t good enough and that I did not matter; a part of me that I did not love or feel was worthy of love because I believed that my dad didn’t love me. 

Finding healing for the sake of your kids

As fathers, we have to overcome our fractures so that they don’t impact our children and their futures. Sure, you might have a right to be angry, I had a right to be angry. But don't remain bitter. You need to heal and be made whole. You deserve that and your children deserve that. In fact you should be so angry that you are determined to make sure that another child, your child, does not have to experience the emotional pain you experienced.

There are times in life when we hold onto things that hold us back. But when we let go and take God’s hand, He teaches us something new that we never would have learned by holding onto what we were used to out of fear of falling. When you take God’s hand, God will teach you to stand, and if you fall He is never far from you and is ready to lift you back up on your feet so that you can keep going. Take God’s hand and allow Him to heal your fractures so that they don’t keep you from experiencing an amazing future with your own children.

Edited from original article on www.redletterchristians.org.

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