When someone causes you pain, it sucks. Like… it really sucks. And typically, it really sticks; like the way you can still see last month’s giant cinnamon roll on your thighs #realtalk. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been carrying around some really heavy hurt for a lot of my life; until today. Today, I gave that hurt away, and for the first time in years, I feel like I can breathe. Not just a shallow, necessary breath, but the kind of breath that fills your lungs. The type of really big breath that you take right before you do something amazing, like belting out the final words of the National Anthem or beginning an olympic swimming event (for the record, I haven’t done either of those things, but I’m assuming a big breath is a necessary step). It’s the type of breath that only comes from forgiveness.
Before I was born, my biological father left. He was flawed and broken, like we all are, and as a result, my mom and I were left alone – but not for long. God replaced a man who ran from responsibility with a man who embraced it. He gave me the best father a girl could ask for; one that’s given me so much love and joy.
Even though that empty space in my life was filled, there was a crack in my heart that came from abandonment, which is really a hard feeling to describe. It’s a deep hurt that follows you around. It speaks negative thoughts into the spaces that are filled with silence. It’s a feeling that becomes a part of who you are without your consent. It’s like a disease; you did nothing to cause it, you definitely don’t deserve it, and it’s not something that can be patched up and fixed. That’s not a very good description, but it’s the only set of words I can find for what I’ve felt for all of these years. The more I thought about it, and the more I experienced life, those feelings grew stronger. I’ve seen plenty of counselors and therapists who wanted to help me work through that hurt, and it always seemed to start with a few simple steps; forgive and let it go.
Honestly, the more I heard that phrase, the tighter I clung to the hurt. This was my story; I didn’t get to take part in writing it, I had no control over how it started, and there was no way I was just going to let it go. I know it sounds backwards, but the only control I had over it was to carry around the resentment and anger that came from it; my emotions. Those were mine; my choice, my memories, my revenge. If I just let it go, what would keep it from being forgotten? And if it was forgotten, it would be like it never happened. And if it never happened, then he got away with it with no punishment, no consequences, and no hurt of his own. That’s where I stood – firmly, unwavering – for 16 years. Until today.
I didn’t wake up this morning with the intention of forgiving my father. I didn’t plan to write this post. My social media planner says “post about Instagram Explore Page”. But I think that’s maybe how God works sometimes, to show us that He’s in complete control of everything, including our hearts. Something in my prayer time shifted, and I felt called to (once again) surrender all the things in my life that cause me anxiety – my expectations for my marriage, where we’ll live, what I’ll do, my travel plans, my dogs – and at the end of that list, I just felt God nudging me to give this up too. But unlike every other time I’ve been encouraged to forgive and move on, God didn’t suggest that I let it go. Instead, He asked me to give it to him. And more importantly, HE promised not to just let it go. He promised to hold on to it for me, not so that he could return it to me, but so that he could transform it, make it new, and show me how to use it.
I know this is going to sound weird to some of you, but I’m a totally visual person, and a lot of times, when I’m praying, I try to create little visuals in my mind of what I think is happening… like writing a comic strip to go along with dialogue. Blame it on the ADD or the built-in desire to create, who knows, but it helps me focus and really feel what I’m saying. Anyway, in my “mental prayer comic strip” today, this is what I “drew” – and guys, I could see it so clearly. A little girl was lugging around an anchor that was shackled to her ankle. She was trying so hard to pull it along, but it was so heavy and she kept getting upset because it was holding her back. Even when she approached God with it, she tried to pick it up and hand it to him, but she couldn’t lift it, it wouldn’t even budge. God just smiled at her as he bent down and picked it up, effortlessly. He helped her take the shackle of her leg, and they started playing together. Running around, skipping, and dancing. And then she glanced up, and saw the anchor tucked under His arm. He didn’t just throw it away or treat it like it was nothing, because even though it was light for him, he understood how heavy it was for her, and how long she carried it around. He saw all the tears cried over it, the choices made because of it, the frustrations felt and the mistakes it caused. The little girl was amazed that he could jump around and play with her, all while holding on to that anchor.
I don’t know what hurt you’re carrying today friend, but I do know that it’s not light, and you must be getting tired. I know how you long to skip effortlessly and dance freely. I know that while it’s not the story you would have written for yourself, you cling to it because it’s the only one you have. But you don’t have to let it go and think that all of your pain is simply forgotten. If you give it to God, he will replace it with something that doesn’t weigh you down or hold you back, something that will inspire you to create instead of leave you feeling stuck, something that you were specifically and intentionally made for. Anchors were made to prevent or restrict movement, and you were created to be free, sweet girl.
Verses your soul might be craving: