Forgiving Our Fathers: A Lesson in Building Bridges Instead of Burning Them

I'm always intrigued at people's power to forgive. Seeing it in action is even more mind-blowing. This weekend, I was at my husband's gym when I saw the most heartfelt exchange between he and his dad: a hug. I'm not talking about a polite, pat-on-the-back hug. I'm talking a full-body, I-love-you hug. A simple gesture but one that warmed my heart nonetheless.

My husband didn't have his dad in his life from the ages of 3 to 16. These are the years when boys need their father most, but for one reason or another, his father wasn't there. 

Those lost years took their toll on my husband in many ways and I know there's still some pain associated with his father being absent. When I first met him, this is one of the first life stories that he shared with me. How could you just not know your father for 13 years and then all of a sudden when you're a teenager your parents get re-married and bam, your father is back in your life? Crazy!

But what's even crazier is the solid relationship those two have now. When they hugged on Saturday, I saw a little boy relishing in his daddy's love that he missed out on for more than a decade. I applaud him for not holding on to unforgiveness and pain. What a treat our kids would have missed out on if my husband had burned the bridge between he and his father because of all those years he was gone.

 Three generations that know and love each other thanks to a bridge of forgiveness.

Three generations that know and love each other thanks to a bridge of forgiveness.

I love that the kids can play and hug their grandfather....especially since my own father is no longer here. He's the only grandfather they have and I'm glad he's building memories with them.

What could have ended up bad has been for all of our good. My father in law is a steady presence at my husband's gym--working out four times a week and in return turning his health around (losing 40 pounds in the process at 65 years old). He's the biggest supporter of his son and loudest cheerleader. 

One day our kids will grow up and may learn about my father in law's 13 year absence from his sons' lives. I'm sure they'll be astounded at how their father offered forgiveness instead of lashing out in pain. I hope that one day they'll thank their father for this gift.