Forgive Your Father: A Letter From Matt Ham

Lewis,

I’m writing this letter asking you to forgive your father. I understand this may seem brash, but I believe it needs to be said. Because there may not be one thing in particular, I’m writing about the generalization that most sons, in some way, hold some level of contempt toward their father. Now I’ve never met your dad, but from what I can tell, he is a fantastic man. So this isn’t a particular knock against him; rather a mindset I’m encouraging you to embrace.

You see, Lewis, often this contempt is mild, and contempt may even be a strong word. It could be the simple fact that your father was a great athlete and those genes seemed to have skipped your generation. Alternatively, it could be that your father is an extremely hard worker, laboring with his hands, whereas you’re a teacher, a thinker.

In these cases, remember, you are your father’s son; you’re not your father.

What I’m saying is that you need to become your own man. The Bible says to honor your father, and you should. However, don’t try to become him. The Lord has blessed you with your own gifts and talents; steward them well. Too often, boys try to live up to the gifts and talents of their father and when they fall short, the pain of failure rears its lying head.

If left unchecked, these seeds of pain can grow into saplings of bitterness. When these saplings are watered with frustration, anger, and unforgiveness, their roots grow deep and produce an oak of unrighteousness in our souls. God calls us to be oaks of righteousness.

On the other hand, Lewis, your contempt will be justified; at least in your mind it will be. He will hurt you. God have mercy on him if it’s with his hands, but usually it will be with his words. Or even worse, his lack of affection. Men aren’t very good at expressing themselves, so sometimes we appear gruff and insensitive.

This isn’t an excuse for your father; it’s unfortunately a reality. I’m not sure if it’s cultural desensitization or is part of our makeup; either way, it pervades mankind. It causes our words to be sharp and unloving. At times, it skews our priorities and, in your father’s case, he’s failed to value precious moments with his growing son.

In these instances the Deceiver will present fallacies that cause you to question: Does my father love me?

Again, seeds of doubt, if watered, yield oaks that shield our souls from true light. This is where you must learn. Contempt should never be justified. Unforgiveness is a wicked, vile thing; it will corrupt you from the inside out as it masks itself in many different forms. With everything in your being, don’t water these seeds; their fruit is sweet to the taste, but their consumption produces crippling effects. This poison takes effect little by little until you’re paralyzed by its venom. I’m not certain if you can ever keep these seeds from being planted; that’s unfortunately the result of our fallen, sinful world.

However, you have the choice of which seeds to water.

The truth is, Lewis, we’re all broken. Therefore, we must water the seeds of responsibility, forgiveness, generosity, wisdom, gratitude, humility, and confidence. Drink in His Living Water and let it flood your soul. Grab his sword, which is His word, and use it relentlessly. You will have to battle, Lewis; fight well. When you do, you’ll find a richness beyond anything you could imagine. It will be a treasure for eternity, the glorious riches of His inheritance.

– Matt

Is there a strained relationship in your life, caused by trying to live up to someone else’s unrealistic expectations? Have you allowed feelings of contempt to grow out of control?

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photo credit: Will Foster via photopin cc

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