The last time I saw my dad was on my birthday, Nov 9 (remember it guys) and it ended terribly. I said (again) that I never want to see him and to never contact me from now on and stomped off the restaurant. After that, I never thought about my dad again until about January when it was New Years and the message was about forgiveness. His birthday was also coming up and I promised God (again) that I was going to forgive him and this time for real. Every time I tried to forgive him, I still harbored a little anger inside me that I refused to let go but the message was so clear and God was really tugging at my heart so I said, “yes, Lord” and decided to forgive him.
I went to my mom and sister and said I was going to forgive him and they all said, “good luck with that” because they knew that I was going to snap on him again but I assured them it was real this time. My sister was a little more resistant but I was all, “but God forgave us so we have to, too” and talked the talk. It was finally his birthday a few days later and I was with my sister at Hillsong. After service, my sister reminded me it was dad’s birthday and that we should wish him a happy birthday. I immediately cringed and made the most unflattering noise. At that moment, I looked at my sister and remembered how I was acting like I heard God’s message clearer than my sister but here I was, avoiding my dad when my sister started off not wanting to but was willing to, more than I, to wish him a happy birthday. I reluctantly called him and after about four rings, I hung up. “At least I tried” I said and never thought about him again until recently.
My mom is trying to get her US Citizenship and she needed to go pick up her marriage license but she couldn’t remember where she went so she asked me to call my dad and find out. I actually never spoke to my dad again since Nov and even though I said I forgave him, I actually never had to <em>do</em> anything to prove it so I was very uncomfortable but I needed to get that information from him soon so I decided to suck it up and called him. The conversation went well. When my attitude wasn’t “Gosh, I hate talking to him” or “This is going to be so uncomfortable”, good things came out of it. He was VERY surprised to hear me and after I got what I needed to find out, we were both in a hurry to hang up. After we hung up, I realized I didn’t even ask him how he was doing so I called back and this conversation went like this:
Me: “Hi, it’s me again. I realized I didn’t ask you how you were doing. How are you?”
Dad: “………I’m good.”
Me: “…You sound tired..What were you doing?”
Dad: “Yeah, I’m working a lot.”
Dad: “So, how are you?”
Me: “I’m good.”
Dad: “How’s your sister?”
Me: “She’s good, too.”
Dad: “Well, I have to go.”
Me: “Yeah, me too.”
Dad: “Ok, bye.”
Me: “Ok, bye.”
I could have said that was weird but it wasn’t. For some reason, it wasn’t weird even though it was really weird. That was about late March or early April. I thought this was good and maybe I’ll give him a call on Father’s day to keep up my “forgiving dad” thing.
About two weeks ago, my sister got a text from my dad and she freaked out. It only said, “Hi Sharon, how are you?” but it was the most shocking thing to us. A text? From dad? Our dad? He texts? She texted him back and found out that he got a Note 2 and thought, woah, now he has a Note 2? It wouldn’t be such a big deal if I secretly didn’t think that he was supposed to be growing old regretting everything.
I also realized that I was super jealous. What the heck, why didn’t he text me? And it turns out that my sister had my dad’s number on her phone and he obviously had our number so when he downloaded Kakao Talk (korean google talk), her number popped up but mine didn’t. I added his number and texted him and we talked a bit but then the conversation died when I asked him a question and he didn’t get it. My sister continued to text dad and she said he wanted to meet for us for her birthday and I said I couldn’t; that I had a lot of work to do cause it’s finals week. She understood but didn’t tell dad cause I think she knew that I was going to end up going somehow.
That brings us to today. We just came back from meeting dad and it was fun. I had fun. It was weird seeing him at first but it got better. My sister was able to walk up to him but I couldn’t. I kept on walking ahead of them or behind them but never with them. For some reason, I couldn’t. He looked really excited to see us and he gave us a hug but I couldn’t smile and show him my excitement or hug him back.
We went to Olive Garden (it was actually good) in Times Square and we got to talking. He asked me what kinds of jobs I can get as an Illustrator, about my study abroad program that I couldn’t go to, Sharon’s job, my work, our schools and etc. I kept on giving him one worded answers because to fully answer his questions, I would have to explain the past four years of my life and it was his fault for missing them. I knew I said I forgave him so that’s why I answered and didn’t snap. I was proud of myself a little bit and the whole time I prayed, “Lord, please”. I couldn’t even digest my food because I was getting stressed out and nervous and anxious. It wasn’t all that bad though. There were times when I laughed and we were able to have a regular conversation. He even showed me a picture of himself when he was younger saying he looked better than Benedict Cumberbatch (I have a picture with him (and when I say with, I mean photoshopped with) as my profile picture on Kakao) to which I replied, “As if!”
When we were eating out dessert, he said to, “You don’t have the peace of God in you” and I wanted to say, “WHAT? I don’t have the peace of God? I don’t? Do you want me to explain why?” but instead, I asked “Why do you think that is?” not to spite him but because I really wanted to know. He said because you still have all that anger inside of you (last time we spoke, he said he made some mistakes but it was my fault for listening to my mom who lied and didn’t tell the truth) and that it was all a misunderstanding. I was about to snap when I realized, this was a God-given opportunity. I know forgiveness comes with or without an apology, but I wanted to know if he was sorry. I was thinking of ways to asked, “hey dad, do you want to apology for everything you did?” but dad steered the conversation in that direction already and all I needed to do was ask. I told him since he was speaking about God, peace, and anger, if there was anything he wanted to apologize about. He said it was all a misunderstanding on my part but he did nothing wrong? I told him that he said he said “I might have made some mistakes” but never apologized for them and he looked at me and told me he didn’t remember the conversation and that if he did say that, he was sorry.
I’m…excuse me, what? He’s sorry? He just apologized…. He just apologized?
When I heard those words, “I’m sorry”, a surge of emotions came over me and I started to cry. I know, it’s so embarrassing crying at an Olive Garden in Times Square no less but I couldn’t help it. He actually apologized. I never thought my dad was going to apologize. I thought that we were just going to continue on from here on like this because I asked God for His strength to help me forgive him and I did. My dad looked at me crying and he just looked out the window. My sister was rubbing my back and asking me if I was alright. No, I wasn’t alright. I was so amazed. God is so amazing.
When my parents first divorced, my mom was full of anger. She said she was going to make them pay, to make them ask her for their forgiveness. Then, she kind of forgave them and moved on but I didn’t. I dreamed of days when I’ll see one of them end up in a nursing home and tell them this was what they got for raising such a shitty son and that God was punishing them for their sins. I wanted to do so well and show off to them how marvelous we are without them. When I first heard the message of forgiveness and that I needed to forgive my dad, I knew that it meant none of the mentioned things so I declined. I knew that God was going to avenge for me but I knew it wasn’t going to be in the way I wanted to be avenged so I politely declined again. I kept declining and declining until I couldn’t ignore God anymore and even though I said I was going to forgive, at one point I confidently said I forgave him and ended up fighting with my dad, but still about 0.000001% of me was still seeking revenge and was filled with hate. That’s what happens when you don’t fully surrender to God. Even if you keep that 0.000001% of your heart to yourself, God’s will can’t be done in you because you are saying to God that you can do better without his help. You can’t.
After wrestling with God about forgiving my dad for 7 years, I gave up on hearing an apology from him and said it was fine. God didn’t forgive me after I apologized, why should I expect anything from my dad? I also knew that God was going to avenge for me on my behalf but when I surrendered to God, I didn’t want any harm to my dad. As much as I loved telling people how much I dislike my dad, I actually didn’t want anything to happen to him. I wanted him to be good, to be healthy, to maybe settle down with someone (I want my mom to settle down with someone too), and be a Christian, not a church-goer. God heard my cries throughout the years, He saw my tears, He saw my heart transforming and trying earnestly to please Him and blessed me with an apology from my dad. That was all I wanted. I wanted an apology from my dad and I would have been happy but he always said he never did any wrong and even referred to my mom as “that woman”. He hurt me so many times and that’s why when he apologized, I cried and thanked God. There was nothing else going through my mind except “God is good, He is faithful” because He is. More than you’ll ever know. If I tried to avenge my mom or get that apology out of him on my own, I may never get it or get it and still have all that anger.
I told him that what hurt me the most wasn’t him doing something to me directly but the way he and his family treated mom, that she was the only one there, the only one who took care of us, and him being horrible to her was hurting us. He continued to apologize, saying that he was sorry for not being there when we needed him the most, that he was sorry for hurting my sister and I, that he was sorry to mom (!!) for a loveless marriage, that he was sorry to all of us because as a leader of household, he failed. I don’t think it was a loveless marriage, I remember good times, but I think that they were selfish and did not care for each other at all by the end; they were not meant for each other (please wait for the person God has appointed for you, it is very important). I honestly didn’t even expect that. At this point in my life, I didn’t even expect an apology. Even in my dreams, I never got past “I’m sorry” from him. When God blesses you, he gives you what you wanted and more- far more than your tiny head could even think/dream of.
He also told us we need to marry a man of God and someone who loves us, that that was the most important thing in the world. I don’t know if he’s Christian because he told me “Christian” messages before he does something stupid but who am I to figure it out if he is or isn’t? I pray every day that he is and it turns out that he goes to Church every Sunday, listens to sermons and praise songs on a regular, and mediates on the Bible on the regular.
It was like my heart was a million times lighter. This weight that I didn’t even know I had was lifted up. After I wiped my tears, we were able to talk. He told us about his marriage and all the mistakes he made and it all made sense. The way my dad acted, the things he said to my mom, why their marriage was the way it was. He was even able to joke about how he was popular with the ladies back then. We went to Cafe Bene after and we thought him how to use his phone. I asked him why he got a Note 2 if he doesn’t even know how to use it (he knows how to use phone, volume, and kakao) and he said, “so I can text you guys.” We also tried explaining to him the difference between text and email was and he thinks that the difference is that you can’t send pictures through texts but can through emails.
He bought my sister a watch for her birthday and we went home together. It turns out that he gives four blocks from us (I know) and we took the subway together. It was weird but in a good way. We showed him baby pictures of us we had on our phones and talked about stuff. We got off and we walked a bit and his house was to the left and ours was to the right. He hugged me and said he was sorry for not being a good dad, that was sorry for everything and for hurting me, that he’ll pray for me, and hopes to see me again soon. He hugged my sister and said the same thing to her and we departed.
I came home, gave my mom the leftover macaroons and told her he apologized to us and to her for everything. She didn’t understand. I told her that he apologized and she asked why. I left out the crying part and just said because. She’s so confused. It’s only recent for her too that she truly forgave him. I told her we really needed to work on forgiving him and meaning that. When we told her that we were going to meet him, she told us to have fun. When my sister spoke on the phone with my dad in front of her, she didn’t mind. When I told her we were with him, she told me to tell him that she’s using the child support money well. God is rewarding her, too. Of course we aren’t doing this to be blessed or rewarded from Him, but that’s who God is. We are His children and He loves us.
I’m still confused, too. As I’m typing this down, I am still wondering if this is real or if he’s going to use my vulnerability against me next time. Either way, God is good. He is really, really, really, really good. Even if dad does something to make me mad, I said I forgave him and I can do everything through Christ Jesus who gives me strength (Phil 4:13). I’m going to surrender to God about my dad, and everything else in my life, constantly and I know I can have a good relationship with my dad, maybe even better than when we were living together as a family.
I’m just so thankful to God for everything. God is so good. That’s all I can say, He’s so good. He’s so good to me.