As we approach Father’s Day, I want to write about the importance of forgiving your fathers and family relationships. If this is not a challenge for you, count your blessings and say a prayer of gratitude as that is truly a blessing!
At the onset, let me wish all fathers globally a very happy, joyous, and loving Father’s Day with their children and loved ones. Give yourself a pat-on-the-back because parenting is one of the toughest jobs on the planet!
As I approach my senior years, the one issue I ponder on is my Legacy. So, this month it might be something for you to meditate on as well. We forever remember our parents and grandparents as will our children and grandchildren. How do you want to be remembered and what will your legacy be? One of my mentors, the late Steven Covey, suggests that one way to focus on your legacy is to write your eulogy before transitioning. This is a difficult thing to do, however, creates a satisfying completion of your life when you leave behind a better world for your children, grandchildren, your community, and the world.
Our founding fathers (and many generations after) left behind a better America and world than the one they inherited. Sadly, that has been eroded into the troubled world we find ourselves in today, more divided than ever. My prayer is that we return to serving our young souls and inspiring them to provide exemplary leadership to build a better world by our mentorship example. We owe this to our children, grandchildren, and future generations. As the Native American wisdom teaches us, “We do not inherit the world from our parents we borrow it from our children.”
During my Spiritual Resiliency courses over the past few decades, (the next virtual version coming up in a couple of weeks!)
I have helped heal many forgive their fathers and family members. Many challenges exist between father-son, mother-daughter, siblings, estranged children, and a host of other familial relationships. Read my musing below about my own journey to forgiveness with my father, the subtle difference between being a father and being a dad, and how I have forgiven myself for my fatherhood mistakes.
As fathers and parents, we have a huge responsibility for our children. I have always strongly felt that the best way to parent is to be a role model. To walk the talk and talk the walk. Children often emulate the values they grow up with and those that were demonstrated by their parents. If these values are negative, children will go the opposite way. In my work of teaching forgiveness
, I regularly witness strong feelings and very challenging issues within the family unit.
There have been similar issues in my own family, and I am sure many of you can relate. The important thing to keep in perspective is that your parents did the best job they possibly knew how to do. Louise Hay taught that people “operate from their current state of consciousness.” So, based on how your parents were raised and what they learned and believed in their life, they did the best they could.
My father did not have a loving upbringing. My wealthy grandfather kicked him out of the home at an early age, so my father had to work very hard to build his own life starting work for an automobile company, bicycling to work every day, and eventually starting his own successful business. In the end, my Grandfather drank and smoked all of his riches away and my father supported him and his siblings in spite of having been treated poorly.
He was a good father to me but extremely busy making a living. While he was not there for my everyday emotional needs, he made sure we had a home, food, and education. He also showed me the value of hard work and giving back one’s wealth and time to serve one’s community. He passed away in September 2008 and pray that the good Lord rest his soul in eternal peace. I learned a lot from my father but also grew up with some challenges when we did not agree, and he disciplined me (something I probably deserved).
One of my biggest challenges with my father was how he cheated me of my fair share in a business deal. This was a tall order as I had to drop out of college to take over the family business due to his poor health, sell the business, and then move to the United States from Kenya to resettle my entire family here. (During the middle 70s when minorities were the target of violence of local dictators and forced to immigrate.) Yes, I was angry and stayed that way for a while. Later, in my meditations, I downloaded the question, “Do you want money to own you, or do you want to own money?”
My grievance with my father was about money, and of course, I did not want money to own me. I forgave my father, and we had a healthy and fulfilling relationship for many years before he passed. Later in my life, this initial forgiveness experience serendipitously helped me to forgive Tony who took my son Tariq’s life. The Lord indeed works in mysterious ways. So, the takeaway here is lost money can always be made again but an important relationship like a father, once lost, is very difficult to get back.
So, on Father’s Day acknowledge yourself as a parent as well as your father, and know they did their best and if they did not do anything for you or somehow failed you along your journey, they still gifted you with life–and for that alone–say a forgiving prayer of gratitude as there is no larger gift than the gift of life!
Peace, gratitude, and many blessings to all fathers on Father’s Day and beyond!