Removing the Root of Bitterness
Several decades after my dad died, I stood beside his unmarked grave. Thick, gnarled roots, dead branches, and vines, dug their way up through the dry earth he lay under. Stalks with sharp thorns around the vines, made it difficult to imagine that anybody was actually buried there.
My husband and I had searched for my dad’s grave for several years. My purpose was to find closure. I wanted to see his grave, to prove to myself that this man who had stolen my childhood, murdered my infant sister, sold my brother for five dollars, and beat and tortured my mother, was truly dead.
I wanted to forgive him. I thought that if I bought a stone with the verse from the Bible describing Matthew 6 engraved that would force me to forgive. But I could not do it. I hated him. I had lived with his ghost hanging over me for most of my adult life. I wanted to be free of him. But how does one forgive evil, wicked atrocities forced upon you and those you love?
I could not forgive through my own strength. It took the super natural power of the Holy Spirit living in me to forgive him. I learned after years of hanging onto anger and bitterness that my anger was hurting only me. The one who caused all of the hurt was not being affected at all. Refusing to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. The bitterness goes through your own heart and in the end hurts only the innocent victim.
I forgave my dad so that I could be free. I learned by letting go, that I was not forgetting or condoning what he had done. He was still accountable for the horrors he had inflicted and the ruined lives he caused. But it was not my place to judge him. When I set myself up as his judge I became the one carrying the burden for his sins, I was carrying the load. By the Word of God and the power of His strength I was able to forgive my dad and let Jesus carry the heavy load. My burden was lifted and I could have peace in my heart.
Fran Grubb is the author of Cruel Harvest: A Memoir. To learn more, click here.