“Chris, I just wanna hang out with my kid.”
With tears in his eyes, that’s what he said to me when recapping the rare occurrence of getting to spend a few small moments with his son the week prior. Early on in his life, Richard lived large playing music, touring the country, sex, drugs, rock and roll, the whole nine yards, until Jesus changed his life, but there were consequences from his former life, like the remaining pieces of a fragile relationship he has with his son. However, listening to Richard brag about the few hours they spent together was beautiful, I didn’t say much, I just let him talk. I could tell it did his soul good to reminisce a moment. Who knows, in a matter of a few short days, how many times he’s told the story, reliving time with his boy over and over again. His face was lit, thankful, proud, like a kid in a candy shop.
I haven’t stopped thinking about my conversation with Richard. I think it was just the fact that what he shared, what he felt, the experience, the painful memories… it’s real. He’s not proud of the environment his son was raised in, he made mistakes, he knows it, admits it, owns it, and does his best to make strides towards a better future. It’s not easy, it’s not gonna be easy, but, in humility and hope, he walks forward, step by step. His dream is that his relationship with his son will one day be restored… I’m believing, with him, that it will be.
Richard went to see his son because he wanted to give him a car, not out of guilt or some desperate attempt to buy back his love, simply to help out his boy, who needed a vehicle, and because Richard loves him. It’s easy to fall into the trap of criticizing parents, condemning them for everything they’ve done wrong, it makes for great storytelling, an easy target, somebody to blame for all of our own personal problems, but rarely are they recognized for the things they did get right. I’m a parent now. I get it. It’s not easy. It’s the most difficult thing I’ll ever do, but I do my best… mistakes and all, and, as every parent in history will, I’ve already tallied plenty of mistakes.
If you’ve been hurt in any major impressionable way, I’d imagine that anything resembling a father, or a mother at that, scares the hell out of you… rightly so. There are things in all of us that still remain due to painful past events and circumstances that make facing the present incredibly difficult or, at the least, challenging. Richard’s son, in a sense, has a right to be hurt, but to what end will we go to prove our pain? Is living the rest of our lives angry and bitter over something that happened in the past, say 10, 20, 30, or more, years ago, ever justified when, ultimately, it’s only damning yourself, handicapping your true potential? Why do we do that to ourselves? There’s a whole thread of complicated reasons, circumstances, memories, and paradigms we could discuss, no doubt. Respectfully, what you feel from past experiences, the ripple effect(s) it created, the memory of how somebody close to us hurt you, makes sense, and healing comes as we learn to process it properly, but, truth be told, each and everyone of us still have to make a decision on how the rest of our lives will play out. We have to learn how to forgive, not run away, or bury the issue… forgive… it’s the only way we can be free of the burden holding us back from embracing who we’re truly meant to become. We can run, hide, cover up, dress up, become successful, make a ton of money, but you’re still you, and I’m still me, and the memories and the pain will remain until we face it head on. Forgiveness. Forgiveness is brave. Forgiveness is freedom. Forgiveness is healing.
We’re all human, we make massive mistakes all the time, so it’s hard to hold others to a standard that we, ourselves, rarely maintain. Sure… I’m often just as shocked as you are by the stupidity and lack of integrity in others, but it’s human nature, which, unfortunately, includes me and you. Like Richard’s son, we all are, in some way, shape, or form, in process. ‘For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face’. We may see glimpses of it here and there, but none of us are perfect, none of us. Some are further down the road than others, but rather than see that as an opportunity to shame, why not try shifting the perspective to see it as an opportunity to help or reach out to someone that has offended you? Do they deserve it? If God, a friend, or a family member has somehow found it within themselves to forgive your, or my, carelessness, then isn’t it worth the consideration? Again, forgiveness is freedom; the more you set others free, the more free you become.
I think the thing that most struck me is that I saw myself in Richard. Like him, along the way, I’ve, regretfully, hurt people… people I cared for. It’s not how I wanted things to pan out, nor how I want to be remembered, but such is life. The truth is we’re all capable, and guilty, of hurting one another in some form or fashion. Some choices may have bigger consequences than others but the playing field is level. How can we expect others to forgive our shortcomings if we’re not willing to do the same? Everybody wants to start a charity, a church, an inspiring conference, to change the world, but it’s often the simple things that are the most noble things that truly make an impact on you and the world around you. Make a phone call today, go knock on that door, set someone free today, set yourself free, and forgive.