Lessons My Father Taught Me #1

Jesus said, “Father…forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6.9a, 12)

What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore – And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over – like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? (1951) Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

My father said, “To anyone who hurts me, hell will freeze over before I speak to you again.”

My father, a Christian, studied the sacred scripture and loved the Lord Jesus. Yet he was a walking contradiction. (As human, are not we all?) For his life, as a man of color and Hispanic ethnicity, coming of age during the Great Depression, was fraught with difficulty that checked his vision and curbed his ambitions. In a word, with dreams deferred and, many, denied, he was angry. His self-defense: A hyper-sensitivity to slights and an elephantine memory, coupled with persistent resistance, at times, refusal to forgive.

I did not inherit my father’s temperament. Surely, however, I learned it.

At the age of 70, as I reflect on my life, I behold how my self-protective anger oft became my prison; shortening the arms and fisting the hands of my soul, disabling me from reaching out to receive the Divine grace of forgiveness. And what I did not possess, I could not give.

As I live, the anger, as olden, long-practiced behavior, abides. Nevertheless, remembering and loving my father, I also have learned that God’s Love is greater. Trusting that, I can and do forgive.

© 2022 PRA

Photograph: William John Abernathy (1915-1996), c. 1990

#lifelessons #forgiveness #GodisLove

2 thoughts on “Lessons My Father Taught Me #1

  1. Dear Paul,

    As we age we grow so much wiser right?? It takes a lot to make me angry but I’m finally learning to forgive more quickly! Your words about your dad absolutely reminds me of all I don’t know about my dad. I know I have his personality but I have. I idea how he treated others or how easy (or not) it was for him to forgive! I guess in some respect that means I just blaze my own trail…..



  2. My beloved sister, your comment — “I guess in some respect that means I just blaze my own trail” — stirs this thought: No matter how much I seek to reflect on my father’s (or any of my ancestors) ways, and then to understand them, still, I must live my life for myself (indeed, as I’m wont to say, my self). Thus, we, each and all, however much we know and do not know (for none of us ever can know all about those who preceded us; indeed, we have enough difficulty knowing ourselves!), must blaze our own trails. I thank you for this reminder.



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