God had been tugging at my heart for a long time, and usually, I listened. But tonight, He was telling me to do something that I hadn't ever dreamed of doing.
Forgive my dad.
Ever since I'd become a Christian, I could tell that God wanted my to forgive my dad. But I had always shoved away the idea. Why would I ever forgive the one who had ruined my life?
The night with Devyn had gone indescribably well. He'd been able to get me to laugh and smile and tease, something I thought I wouldn't be able to do for at least the next few days. And then, he'd invited me to go bowling with him the next day. I was elated!
Now that I was alone, however, all the old insecurities and bitterness arose within me. I sat on my bed, unwilling to do what God was asking me to do.
"I refuse," I whispered, lowering my head. "I refuse to forgive my dad for all he's done."
I looked up, eyes filled with unexpected tears. My eyes moved to a poster that I'd tacked up on my wall. It was of a cross, surrounded by white and crimson swirls. In the middle of the cross, the word "Forgiven" was emblazoned in black. I felt the tears fall more swiftly down my face. Goodness, I'd done enough crying to fill a pool in the last few days alone!
Sniffing, I didn't allow the word "Forgiven" to sink into my heart. I knew God was right. Because God had forgiven me, I was called to forgive my earthly father. But I wasn't ready. I doubted I ever would be. After all my dad had done, how on earth could God expect me to extend forgiveness?
I lay back on my bed and closed my eyes. Soon enough, my breathing steadied, and I was fast asleep. But I was far from peaceful.
In my dream, I could see myself, standing before a cross on a hill and mocking it as though I didn't believe in its power. I watched myself spit on the cross and kick it, then turn around with a menacing smile on my face. I watched myself walk away from the cross, the symbol of God's love and forgiveness. And as I watched, pain tore through my heart. How dare I mock the love of Christ?
Feeling something strange happening on my arms, I looked down and saw black vines begin to ensnare my body. I struggled to get free, but it was all to no avail. I began to scream, but all I could see was that image of myself, laughing at the cross. Laughing at God's forgiveness. Taking for granted the fact that I'd been forgiven of all my treacherous sins.
And then I awoke, trembling from head to toe. I sat up in bed, and I didn't have to look in the mirror in order to know that all color had been drained from my face. Silently weeping, I looked down at my body. No, I was not tangled in a mess of grimy black vines.
But by not forgiving my father...I truly was mocking the cross.
All the times I'd refused to forgive my father paraded before my very eyes. If I was to call myself a Christian, then how could I deny one of God's greatest commandments - to forgive those who have hurt you? I hunched over and rocked back and forth. Was I strong enough to forgive my dad?
I rose, kneading my fingers back and forth against each other. I was still sobbing as I walked up the stairs.
Dad's door was wide open, surprisingly. He was still in his work clothes. I stood outside the door, just watching him. What would he do if I forgave him? Would it change him at all?
I doubted it.
I knew God wanted me to wake my dad up and give him forgiveness, but frankly, I wasn't willing to do it. I watched my father for another five minutes before turning around and walking back to my room. I wouldn't forgive him, at least not soon. Someday, but not today.