Monday, June 15, 2009

Hard to Find a Father's Day Card?

Year after year, I see people struggling in front of the card rack, trying to find a Father’s Day card? Why is it so hard? Well, for many people, Hallmark doesn’t produce cards for people who have a father they haven’t forgiven--yet. Oh the difficulty of finding a card, when the father wound in your heart shouts against false sentimentality that is often the theme of Father’s Day cards.

How easy is it for a father to wound his child? My husband, Ken, and I watched the movie Walk the Line, based on the life of Johnny Cash. During the movie there were several painful scenes between Johnny Cash and his father. Johnny’s father was a merciless perfectionist, and his incessant criticism of Johnny helped fuel years of addiction. The shame and anger caused in the heart of a child who has been exasperated by a perfectionistic parent is seen not only in the life of Johnny Cash but in the lives of millions who have heart wounds from such unloving parents.

After the movie Ken said, “I was raised by two perfectionists, and I am a perfectionist, and I am concerned about the impact on our children. When we return home, I want to ask them three questions:

1. What do I do or say that discourages you?
2. Do I do anything or say anything that encourages you?
3. What would you like me to do or say that would encourage you?”

Ken asked both our children, and neither had any major complaints. My heart was touched that Ken was sensitive enough to want to ask such questions. Most parents are often clueless concerning the exasperation and hurt that they have caused their children despite Paul’s admonition: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

If you have struggled with shame and anger and you haven’t been able to trace the source, maybe you need to consider the impact of a parent’s words on your heart as a child. A therapist told me, “Jackie, verbal abuse causes heart wounds just like sexual abuse does.” How shocked most critical parents are when they discover the destructive damage done by their criticism and perfectionism. By the same token, silent and neglectful parents can wound as well—another method of aborted love through anger.

Maybe the best gift you can give your father this Father’s Day—is also a gift that you will be giving to your own heart. By faith, choose to forgive your earthly father, as you have been freely forgiven by your Heavenly Father (Matt. 6:9, 12).

(Excerpt from Free Yourself to Love: The Liberating Power of Forgiveness)

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Jamie said...

Very well put. I actually sent you an e-mail on this. Hope you don't mind.

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