Discovering the Door to Freedom
Posted May 3, 2022 by Theresa Miller
Categories: Featured, Sister Post, Theresa
It’s 2008. Facebook is still a novelty and cell phones are not yet the hand held digital computers they are today. I sit in front of my desk computer and scan words from the feed of my new Facebook account, reading how proud my father is of his young adult son.
I’m not jealous, but it stirs emotions in me like a tornado landing Dorothy, from the “Wizard of Oz,” in another world. Dorothy isn’t in Kansas anymore and I am no longer a thirty-year-old wife and mother-to-be in Wyoming.
I am a little girl back in Pennsylvania uncharacteristically jumping and waving and shouting inside, “Look at me! Look at me!”
It reminds me of something my son at three-years-old would say when he wanted me to see something special.
I want my dad to be proud of me, too.
The longing runs deep, yet circumstances had brought me, my mom, and sisters from Pennsylvania to Wyoming in a whirlwind of events when I was ten and my dad doesn’t even know me anymore.
Twenty years had passed by this point since we moved away as a child. Yet as I sit staring at the screen, swollen with a baby growing in my womb, it might as well have been yesterday. The pang of longing and loss defies time and distance and the ache feels as ripe as a freshly cut wound.
Haven’t we all felt an incidental rubbing scratch the scab off an old wound, at one point or another?Maybe for you the pain of that wound feels like longing oozing forth, or grief, or bitterness. We want to erase the pain and start over. We want to make right the wrong somehow and we attempt it with will power. We think if those who wronged us see the full ramifications of their choices, we can finally move on. But none of us ever do clearly see, because wouldn’t that destroy us? No, freedom must come the way Jesus demonstrated—through forgiveness.
I thought I had forgiven my dad long before this point. Yet over the years I found myself wanting him to understand everything he lost and everything we lost as a result. I wanted him to see me and be the father I always needed. Yet the more I expected, the more out of reach my peace became. It was never enough. The truth is our sin is too great to fully see, to rectify, or to heal without the atoning blood of Christ. Jesus prayed at the cross, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And he died for what we could not fully understand.
On this day with the glow of a screen reflecting off my face, God in his gentle way shows me that forgiveness and healing come in layers. It’s okay to feel the pain of an old wound you thought you had forgiven. In God’s mercy, he peels back layers for healing in his time; it’s our job to work through another layer of longing and grief, pain and bitterness, forgiveness and healing, to the peace, freedom, and life abundant Jesus offers us. He’s not promising to remove our suffering, but to walk us through it to the other side, layer by layer, until we are whole with him in heaven.
Since that day, God in his mercy, is asking me to release my father from my expectations and allow God to be my everything—the Father who has always been there; the one I’ve always needed. In this space, I can accept the cup he has allowed me for a greater purpose and love my earthly father or mother or sibling or neighbor unconditionally.
When we stop expecting from another person what only our Heavenly Father can perfectly give, we release a chain binding us to our suffering. This frees us to love in the tension of our pain, our grief, and our longing. It frees us to embrace compassion for those who have wronged us with a desire for their freedom, too—even when we are not responsible for it.
Friend, we know God is working out forgiveness fully in us when we desire freedom for the ones who have wronged us.
Jesus desired our freedom in spite of our betrayal, persecution, and slander. He forgave us so we could be free to forgive others. Therefore, we have the power in Christ to work in partnership with him to set people free as well. Forgiveness is the door to that freedom.
Does forgiveness feel difficult for you right now? If so, pray this prayer with me:
God, I feel hurt, rejected, mocked, and betrayed. I come before you today acknowledging Jesus experienced these very same feelings. Yet, he forgave. I want to forgive so I can be free of this agony. It’s time to break off the chains that have kept me bound to my pain and resentment. Heal my heart layer by layer to the point you use this pain for the healing and freedom of others, especially of those who have wronged me. I trust you to do the work in me, as I walk the road you place before me.
In Jesus’ name, amen.