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Absentee Dads: A Daughter’s Personal Story of Forgiveness

Last year, the father I’ve never met checked into the hospital for minor surgery. There’s no guarantee that whoever goes under the cloak of anesthesia will come out safely, minor surgery or not, so I imagine it raised the concerns of the people who actually know and love him. In an effort to rally the legions of children he’s left his genetic footprint on, my oldest half-sister—bless her heart—sent me a Facebook message asking me if I would come to see him during his brief stay, either before or following his procedure.

She and I have never met face-to-face, but have been in contact via inbox conversations, so she took the opportunity to try a little sisterly persuasion by tugging ever-so-gently at my heartstrings. She peddled quotable comments about the past being beyond our control but the future being ours to dictate and design. Then she pulled out the big guns: Biblical scripture. God wanted me to forgive. It was right there in the Word. And my refusal to get on board with this impromptu Brady Bunch moment was throwing a monkey wrench in the Master’s master plan.

Somehow, somewhere, someone got forgiveness and foolishness all tangled and intertwined together. Forgiveness, on its own, is mentally and emotionally letting go of any grievance, any hard feelings, any smoldering resentments you have against a person, even a situation. But expectations from forgiveness can be stretched way too far. Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean you want to be bothered with them. It doesn’t mean you want them to bring a covered dish to your bridal shower or text you a bunch of flimsy well wishes on your birthday. It is very possible to let go of the feelings that are keeping you in personal bondage and still not want to smile all in their face. Sometimes it’s just enough to forgive. That is the healing in and of itself.


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