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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