Driving Nails To Kill
I wasn't surprised to read that not all of you were interested in writing your dad a tribute. Some pain runs too deep. One of you wrote,
My dad left when I was six, came back when I was ten and had another baby with my mum, then left again about a year ago. Now my parents are getting divorced. I don't talk to him anymore, and I'm sure not doing anything for him. My tribute: Say goodbye to your wedding invitation when I get married! And don't expect to get any photos when the grandkids come.
If you relate to her pain, I'm going to challenge you this Father's Day season not to write your dad a tribute, but to choose to forgive him. Not for your dad's sake, but for your own sake. Because if hurt has turned into bitterness in your life, you're destroying yourself. Just ask this person:
My daddy left us when I was two. I wanted a daddy so bad. I hated him for leaving me. I hated him so much, I wanted him to die and go to hell.
I grew up in the mountains. There is a lot of superstition in the mountains. They said if you drove a nail in a tree and spoke the name of a person while driving the nail that person would die.
There was a big pine tree near where I grew up. I went to that pine tree day after day driving nails and speaking the name of my daddy. I do not know how many nails I drove in that tree, but my daddy did not die. I hated him so much.
The hatred I carried for my daddy wrecked my first marriage and is threatening my second. I am a shell of a person; I do not have any close personal relationships.
Whether it's your dad or someone else who has wronged you, here are three helpful steps on how to choose forgiveness from Nancy Leigh DeMoss:
1. Identify the people who have wronged you and the way(s) they have sinned against you.
Take a blank sheet of paper and draw two lines from top to bottom, forming three even columns down the page. In the left column, write the names of all those who have sinned against you. . . . Then in the middle column, write out the specific offense (or offenses) each one has committed against you. How did they wrong you? Be specific.
It's important to realize that forgiveness does not mean pretending that the offense never happened. That's not honest. That's denial. True forgiveness is not about mind games and dream worlds—it's not about escaping from reality. It's about facing reality and dealing with it God's way.
2. Make sure your conscience is clear toward each of the individuals on your list.
That's what the third column on your paper is for. Ask yourself, "How have I responded to this person?" Then record your answer.
- Have you blessed them?
- Have you loved them?
- Have you prayed for them?
- Have you forgiven them?
The truth is that you're not responsible for what goes in that middle column. You didn't ask for it, didn't invite it, don't deserve it. But you are responsible—solely and fully responsible—for what goes in the third column.
Once you've identified those people who have wronged you, once your conscience is clear with the Lord and with those individuals—you've sought forgiveness for anything you've done to them . . . it's time to take the next—and what may be the hardest—step in your journey.
3. Choose to fully forgive every person who has sinned against you.
You don't have to feel like it. You don't have to want to. But if you want to be an obedient child of God, you've got to forgive . . . There's just no detour around this point in the journey to freedom in Christ. "If you hold anything against anyone, forgive him" (Mark 11:25).
As you respond to the Lord in this matter, be sure not to stop short of actually forgiving your offenders. I've heard sincere, well-meaning people pray, "Lord, please help me to forgive this person." I've heard others say, "I know I need to forgive him . . ." I don't doubt their sincerity, but that's not enough. Don't just ask God for help; don't just talk about your need to forgive. Go all the way. Say, "Lord, by Your grace and in obedience to You, I choose to forgive. I do forgive!"
If you make that choice to forgive, will you tell me about it? And if not, what's holding you back?