Recently, I had a meeting with a mid-aged lady – a mother and a wife. For privacy reasons, I will call her Lucy here. Lucy is a practicing Catholic. She is a convert to the Catholic faith and a woman of high moral values. But Lucy has lived for more than half a century in this world deeply embittered by a painful experience of what transpired between her and her dad when she was about nine years old. I am sure you can imagine what this could be! Lucy said she was sexually abused.
While this abuse happened, Lucy’s dad was a loving, caring, and generous man who provided lavishly for his family. So, she grew up having all she wanted in life – not just what she needed. But amid this affluence, Lucy grew up with a deep emotional wound that affected her tremendously. Her marriage and family life, including her social life and work experiences, have suffered unprecedented damage. She attributes all these to the sad experience she had with the man that God entrusted her life unto.
Lucy’s dad is advanced in years and currently lives in a nursing home with multiple health problems. Lucy abandoned him there for several years now and has refused to forgive her father for the abuse. It is not clear if her dad knows why her daughter has abandoned him for such a long time.
As I talked to Lucy, I realized that she lives in heavy grudges against her dad. She believes that that ugly experience with her dad at the age of nine is responsible for all the problems she has suffered all these years. Truly, I could tell that Lucy has known no peace of mind for a long time. But then I asked if she prefers to live in these grudges for the rest of her life, knowing very well that unforgiveness cannot right the evil that took place. Lucy explained that she did not want to see her dad anymore. She felt so terrible and wondered what she could do to be made whole again. I looked at her intently as the words of Martin Luther King Jr. flashed through my mind – Lucy, ONLY LOVE CAN DO THAT! You must forgive your dad and learn to love him again.
Many of us live in similar situations today. Some of the peoples and institutions we loved and trusted have caused us many of the brokenness we face. These people and institutions cause us this brokenness by emotional, physical, or sexual abuses, betrayals, calumnies, gossips, bullies, chastisements, denials, rejections, and refusals.
Unfortunately, darkness cannot drive out darkness. We cannot repay evil with evil. Only light can drive out darkness. Only goodness can destroy evil. Lucy cannot continue to live in grudges. For the sake of Jesus who is LOVE, Lucy must forgive her father, visit him, and try to build a good relationship with him as much as possible before his father lives this world. That is the surest and most effective means of healing for Lucy.