He did me wrong. He hurt me. He was the one that was supposed to protect me. But instead, he hurt me. When I was younger, I didn’t know how bad I truly been hurt. But as I get older, I now see the ramifications of fathers who aren’t around for their children.
My father never laid a hand on me. But he did lay hands (physically abused) on my mother. My father never cussed me out. But he did cuss my mother out.
I loved my father. I still do. He’s been dead now for a number of years. Yet something weird continues to happen to me. Maybe it’s happened to you or maybe it’s happening to you right now. From time to time past interactions that I had with him pop into my head. Like a video tape, I can recall them with crystal clarity the terrible events we often endured when he was drunk. They play out slowly. I can see a young Benjamin screaming at the top of his lungs with a butter knife in his hands hoping my dad would get off of my mom on the couch.
I can feel the fear of running down East Michigan street in Urbana Illinois with some other family members in my swimming trunks because my father was drunk and acting crazy.
I can see how tired and frustrated my mother was because of all the jobs she had to work just to make ends meet. All of these thoughts and images pool into my mind and play like a VIDEO TAPE. The only problem is that when they do, I find myself getting angry. But something even worse, I can’t stop the TAPE. I can’t EJECT THE VIDEO TAPE.
Can you relate? That stupid VIDEO TAPE? Why can’t I turn it off at times? Why is it easier at times to watch bad video tapes, instead of the good ones? Like the times my mom and dad visited us in Missouri, where we laughed and had great fun? Or the time dad came to help me after buying my first house? He did do so many great things in my life. Those are the video tapes that I want.
But at times when it comes to my dad, those aren’t the tapes that seemed to get played as much. It’s the other video tapes that seem to be on a constant loop. I can feel the anger and resentment begin to bubble up as I watch them. But it’s not just with my father. It could be with others that have hurt me.
I sometimes wonder if I have truly forgiven my father. I believe I have, but at times I have doubts. Or maybe I just need to process those moments when those video tapes begin to play. There are stop buttons and pause buttons on those video tape players. But why do I sometimes choose not to use them? I don’t know. But I do know a couple of things.
1. We all make mistakes. My dad made mistakes. As a father and husband, I’ve made mistakes. The only one that lived and never made a mistake was Jesus.
2. People will hurt others. My father hurt me. I have hurt others. It’s so easy to focus on the problems, pitfalls, and imperfections of others, while at the same time ignoring the ones we may have. That must stop.
3. No matter what happens in the past, we all have a choice. I had to decide how I would respond to my father and his actions. I could play the blame game and be angry forever. Or I could decide to go in a different direction. I choose to go in a different direction. But that’s not to say that I still don’t struggle at times. I still do.
I still have a problem. How do I eject the video tape when it begins to play? How would you answer that question? I Would love to hear from you about it. Below are some thoughts from me about it.
1. Maybe I shouldn’t eject the video tape at all. Maybe I should just watch it all the way through. Back in the day when we were still using VHS, after the tape was done, I believe it would simply eject itself. Maybe watching the tape will be a reminder for me of how far God has brought me.
2. Maybe I should begin to countdown a certain amount of numbers. I heard someone say that doing something like that will disrupt those thoughts. I’ve tried it and it seems to work from time to time.
3. Maybe when those bad video tapes begin to play, I need to insert a good video tape.
I don’t have it all figured out. But I know I love my father. I know he loved me. I know we were able to reconcile while he was still alive. I know that the Lord loves him and He loves me.
And I know that certain video tapes just don’t need to be watched anymore. Eject that video tape and throw it away.
I CAN DO…SO CAN YOU.