They Do Exist.

What I Learned About Forgiveness, Death, & Life Without Parents

Editor’s Note: Today’s post was written by Laura Nicholson. She tweets at @lauranicholson. I am reminded that we are an amazing group of women who have seen SO much love, grace, and healing in our own lives. Laura, thank you for sharing your story. – Lauren

Forgiveness is powerful. I can remember back to my childhood where forgiving someone would be a simple “I’m sorry for hurting you”, but not actually understanding the real power of the words. This year, Jesus taught me how freeing it is to forgive someone.

My story begins eight years ago at the age of 12. I grew up as an only child in Canada, in a loving home with a wonderful mother and father. Things were not as perfect as they seemed, as my parents announced their divorce at the beginning of December in 2003. Confusion, hurt, and anger were just a few of the emotions inside of me. My parents decided to live in the same house even after announcing their divorce. They hoped to keep the family together for Christmas and then hoped to proceed with their divorce in the new year.

December 23rd was supposed to be the day where my family celebrated Christmas with my grandmother. Instead it was the day my dad killed my mom and then killed himself. As a police officer, my dad had access to a gun and brought it home and made the fateful decision. I was home at the time and firmly believe God was protecting me from my father and spared my life. I heard the gunshots and ran upstairs, only to find their bodies bloody and lifeless. Panic set in and I phoned 911. I ran outside to the snowy, cold morning and felt completely alone. Orphaned. Abandoned. Not worthy. Hurt.

I was sent to live in foster care for two months because no one in my family wanted me, except for my aunt and uncle, but I did not want to live with them because I knew they were Christians. I wanted absolutely nothing to do with God. My mom had told me Christians were crazy so there was no way I was going to live with them. My legal guardian who was supposed to take me did not want me. My other uncle said, “it won’t work out.” So off to foster care I went.

After two months of misery, I decided to go live with my aunt and uncle. It was then I was introduced to Jesus. Less than a month of living with them, Jesus transformed my life. I accepted Him at the age of 13 and have not looked back. God is my comforter, my Father, and my healer.

In the past eight years, I ignored my emotions. I was hurt my own family abandoned me and that my father left me, but I didn’t necessarily know what to do with these feelings.

This year, I prayed, thought about it, and spoke to several wise Christians about my emotions. Throughout this, I discovered anger has never been an emotion I have felt towards my dad, and I know that is a miracle from God. He has given me such a heart of compassion and forgiveness towards him. I picture my father as a child. So innocent. So hurt. Completely broken. I see how having Jesus in his life could have had a completely different outcome for his life, my mother’s life, and mine. If he had hope in Jesus, he could have seen the freedom he has in being a child of God.

I have learned what forgiveness is not this year. It is not accepting what happened to you is okay and acceptable. It is not ignoring what happened to you. Instead it is a powerful choice that brings so much freedom and takes the load you are carrying, and gives it to Jesus.

I have been wrestling with feelings of anger and abandonment towards my family that rejected me when I needed them most. I realized I can live with these feelings, or I can choose to do something about it. I believe only with the power of Jesus will they realize they did anything wrong. It can be hard for someone to apologize for something if they do not think they have wronged you. Forgiving them is for me. It willingly saying, “I forgive you. I do not accept what you did to me was okay, but I have forgiven you and will not hold it against you.”

God has shown us the perfect example of forgiveness. He forgives us no matter what our sin. He may be sad or disappointed in a decision we have made, yet he always forgives. He gave me this power with my dad miraculously, but I still struggle with my feelings toward my extended family.

Forgiveness is a long process. It is not instantaneous. It hurts to forgive. It is humbling to forgive someone who has done us wrong. But ultimately, it gives us a freedom we could never experience otherwise.

While I am technically an orphan, I have the best Father a girl could ask for. I have a Father who will never leave or hurt me. He loves me. He provides me with guidance. God has taken a horrible situation and has made it beautiful. He has taught me the ultimate lesson in forgiveness.

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13 Responses

  1. wow, laura. what a really powerful testimony. not many folks can say that's what happened to them, to be sure. i can't even imagine all that you've learned about life and god through your journey. i thank god this is your story. xo

    December 31, 2011 at 9:36 am

  2. shelbyisrad

    I have learned what forgiveness is not this year. It is not accepting what happened to you is okay and acceptable. It is not ignoring what happened to you. Instead it is a powerful choice that brings so much freedom and takes the load you are carrying, and gives it to Jesus.

    that is gold.

    I started crying just reading the title of the post… I was abandoned by my parents when I was young too and still struggle with forgiving my mother. It was so much easier to forgive the dad I never knew and even my mom's boyfriends who were abusive to me as a child. But forgiving my mom has been so entirely different and i still struggle with it.

    I've always said I am 'technically' and orphan, but I have the best Father there is.
    Thanks for sharing your story your bravery is encouraging.

    December 31, 2011 at 10:18 am

  3. Wow.. this is so powerful and so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this! Happy New Year to you!

    December 31, 2011 at 12:34 pm

  4. Deborah

    Laura~ What a brave one you are to share your story.
    Isn't it amzing how once it is told, it no longer has a hold on you?!
    Blessings on you for the new year, and your new life.

    December 31, 2011 at 12:43 pm

  5. bornsirius

    Thank you for posting this simply because it helps me not to feel so alone. So few people experience this kind of trauma, and I am always blessed to find someone who understands it. My sisters were murdered 4 years ago in front of my eyes. I have been on a journey of forgiveness ever since, and there are still things I am working through. I am so glad you spoke of your struggle, because it is one. Until recently I never felt any anger towards the murderer. But lately I have had raging anger, blinding rage. That has been interesting to see and know that I will need to work on that and confront it.
    In any case, I thank you so much for sharing your story, the biggest reason being that I don't feel so alone in mine. Bless you, Laura.

    December 31, 2011 at 1:22 pm

  6. leeleegirl4

    I am touched by your gripping story of forgiveness. God is good.

    December 31, 2011 at 2:06 pm

  7. Robyn

    Wow. Awesome article and so true. Parental rejection is a huge issue to deal with…but not too huge for God. Sweet, powerful words as we approach the New Year. Thanks!

    December 31, 2011 at 2:39 pm

  8. "I believe only with the power of Jesus will they realize they did anything wrong" Words I need to live by. Thank you so much for sharing your incredible story!

    January 2, 2012 at 6:52 pm

  9. patti

    Thank you Laura for sharing your story. That takes HUGE courage to open up and share your pain with others. I too have come from a very traumatic past full of abuse, abandonment and have witnessed horrible atrocities including a murder, though it was not a family member. I have and continue to struggle with depression and pain, but am definitely on my way to healing. In my journey, I have learned that forgiveness is the key to freedom. It is the ONLY way to set your heart free from the chains that bind us. God is the answer and what a wonderful Father He is. I am so glad that you have found God as your strength and life.


    January 28, 2012 at 6:55 pm

  10. fatma

    wow laura thank you for sharing your story . really it touch me and i feel sad
    i'am sur that you are brave try to be always strong good luck :)

    December 28, 2012 at 6:10 am

  11. deep kaushik belle

    i feel its not a story sometimes i think its my feeling .. my mom dad exp. .. no one understand the feeling of daughter more than parents i miss them very badly :(

    July 16, 2014 at 4:23 am

  12. Everyone should give forgiveness for the death and life without any protection or parents. They are feeling uneasy and no one understand them. That type of so many books are written by this website content providers.

    November 13, 2015 at 2:14 am

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