When I Forgave My Father
A testimony of healing through forgiveness.
As a child, I grew up yearning to experience God in my life but I found it difficult to relate to Him as a loving Father. This is why. My biological father suffered severely from manic depression, an illness that often caused him to act irrationally. He was controlling and unpredictable, with an inability to convey love and approval. He could not control his anger.
I lived in fear of the unknown with little self-confidence and no self-esteem. For many years, I held onto every negative word that had been spoken over me. I was a frightened little girl who would curl up under her bed and cry. My only comfort lay in knowing that “my Jesus” with was with me.
At 6 feet 4 inches tall and very broad, my father cast an imposing shadow that was ever present in the house. His illness caused him to attempt to take his own life on several occasions. Several times I visited him in hospital after he had overdosed on painkillers. In order to survive, I shut down, hoping to erase these memories and shut him out of my life.
"I was told by the surgeon I may never run again and that I would soon get to a point of not being able to walk."
A few years later, my mother made the most courageous decision of her life: to separate from him. Friends of the family agreed with my mother that she would be compromising our safety and hers if he were allowed to be part of our lives. I have not had contact with him since I was 11.
As you read this, you will understand why my biological father somewhat bruised my image of a Heavenly Father who is loving and compassionate. I know now that God is proud of me. He adores me and thinks that I am a beautiful daughter. But when you have a warped view of “Dad,” as I did, it becomes very difficult to trust God or any man for that matter. It was during these times that I also became physically ill.
A Grim Diagnosis
As a child, I always seemed to be in and out of hospital with various conditions. In brief here is what happened..
I was diagnosed with Epilepsy at ten, and was teased by my peers all through my schooling because they did not understand what seizures were. I would suffer up to 12 seizures per day!
I had cysts on my ovaries at 18 years old and other complications, which meant there was an increased chance of not being able to conceive. This was hard to hear!
Following school I went to college to study Sports Science. I began to get a great deal of pain in my knees; we thought they were growing pains. At 18 years old I had my first exploratory knee operation. The condition was called Chondromalaciapatella syndrome. This is basically where the back of the kneecap falls apart.
During my college days the need to be accepted and liked arose, I became bulimic. For years I felt guilty after every mouthful of food, and couldn’t cope with the thought of putting on weight. I hated myself and others and had become bitter and scared of the world.
At the same time I developed lactose intolerance, a condition that means my stomach could not tolerate lactose, the sugar found in cow’s milk. It also had complications in that the only medication that worked to control my epilepsy, contained lactose, resulting in my having diarrhoea for ten years.
By the time of my fourth operation on both knees I was 22 years old, and I was engaged to Stuart. The prognosis was not good. I was told by the surgeon I may never run again and that I would soon get to a point of not being able to walk. I was in constant pain, and had 3-inch bolts in my knees to keep them in line with the rest of my leg! Once we were married, Stuart used to have to carry me up and down stairs. I was completely dependent on him. He married me knowing that I would potentially be crippled.
In October 2002, we were then challenged with my next condition! After four months of constant headaches, which we assumed were connected to the epilepsy, we finally got to see a consultant neurologist and Kings College hospital in London. The pain was debilitating, and for four months I went to bed with a headache, and woke up with a headache. I was diagnosed with transformed migraines, a rare form of migraine, which feeds off itself. It will not cease unless a particular drug successfully interrupts its cycle, but my drugs were not working meaning that I could suffer interminably from this one headache. Our life stopped for 6 months.
On March 21st 2003, we attended a conference in Bath, England with John and Carol Arnott. The title of the four day event was “The Father Loves You.” I didn’t want to go because I knew exactly what it would mean: dealing with issues I thought I had buried. I had long since convinced myself that I didn’t need Father God. I had Jesus.
I made a bit of fuss about going and remember saying to Stuart that I wasn’t going to cry. I wasn’t going to cry when the word “Father” was mentioned; nor when people gave testimony of their negative experience of “father,” and I certainly didn’t need to go forward and ask for prayer to help me forgive my father. After all, I was already “sorted,” I declared.
“What have you got to lose?”
About ten minutes into their talk on the first evening, I started to cry. John was talking about forgiveness and the freedom that comes from forgiving “Father.” I thought I had forgiven him, but I also knew that I was holding on to some of the hurt and memories and that dealing with them was going to be too hard!
Stuart kept nudging me to go forward for prayer. “What have you got to lose?” he said. I did begin to feel peaceful, so I went forward with hundreds of other people, praying that God would sort me out. I knew that God was dealing with a videotape of images that I often replayed in my mind, issues that needed erasing. I knew these issues would begin to affect our marriage if I didn’t sort them out. The fear of men, especially tall men, the fear of rejection, my self image and problems linked with not eating because I thought I was fat. (That is what I was told as a child, therefore it must be right.)
On the second night, John led us through a prayer of forgiveness. He talked about Father God knowing my pain. He continued by reminding me that Father God knew when I was in my room on my own crying, He heard me, He knew I was scared, and He was with me, He hurt when I hurt, He felt my pain when I felt pain.
I prayed a prayer of forgiveness, but this time, it came from the heart, and I meant it. I forgave my father for taking my childhood away from me, for abusing his rights as a father, and for every negative memory I had of his abuse. I forgave him.
What release! Suddenly I felt light as though a burden lifted. The videotape had been erased, not all the memories, but the feelings associated with the memories all went. I even began to pray for my father to be healed and free, too. I had a vision of Daddy God squeezing my cheeks and saying to me, “Chloe, this is the moment I have been longing for you and me, Daddy and daughter.”
Daddy God, my amazing Father, got rid of 26 years worth of pain. How awesome is that! I was also relieved because it was only the second night of the conference, which meant that I could enjoy the rest of the weekend without crying!
The next session came, and towards the end John asked all the delegates in the auditorium to come to the front if they were involved in worship leading at their churches. I was so excited, because this was a good thing, something I enjoy and also something that is not an issue in my life. Plus something I wouldn’t cry over!
AFTER FORGIVENESS COMES FREEDOM
I had forgiven and I was free emotionally, but physically I was still a mess. When I was at the front for this worship leader’s call, someone prayed for me, I was overwhelmed by the power of God. Not in a way that caused crying, but in a quiet, calm and restful way. I was lying on my back on the floor, and heard Carol say, “Receive your healing from Father God.” She knew nothing about my past or present, but these words were real and straight from Father God.
My legs began to tingle. I had severe stomach cramps, and my head felt like it was going to explode even more than usual. It was unbearable, yet I was still and peaceful! I opened my eyes and remember saying to Carol, “I have no pain.” I could hardly speak through excitement. What had all that got to do with leading worship? I don’t know, but God had I had set me free!
"It was a miracle!"
My knee pain had gone, and for the first time in years, I could kneel down. I could jump up and down with no pain; my headaches had gone, and I didn’t feel sick. Daddy God had set me free. The words, “By His stripes you are healed...” became a reality.
What a weekend! Once home, my knees were still great, no headaches, either. I thought I should sneak a couple of Cadbury dairy bars to see if God had healed my lactose intolerance as well as my legs and headaches. I had cereal with loads of milk, cheese sandwiches, ice cream... you name it; I tried it; and all without Stu knowing it, I hasten to add. I was fine. It was a miracle!
That was nearly four years ago. God has now set me free physically and emotionally! I have no fear of men now, and my husband and I are able to spread the awesome news about the love of the Father.
After this, we were buzzing and were so excited but scared to test the epilepsy, because the effects could be horrendous if I came off the drugs. After consulting and praying with John Arnott, we went to the doctor and told her we believed that God had healed the epilepsy. After recovering from the shock, the doctor agreed to reduce the drug doses very slowly. One year on and I am now drug free and seizure free after 20 years of being epileptic.
Today God has brought me to a place where I have no ill feelings for my father at all. I have even started communicating with him by mail. I have asked him to forgive me for not being the daughter he had hoped for; and since I wrote that letter, he has asked me to forgive him for not being the father he should have been. I am now in a place to pray for him to walk out this healing.
This healing has changed my life and our marriage and has challenged many people around us. People that know us have witnessed our suffering, and they have now witnessed my healing. I can now hear and say the word,” father,” without crying. I don’t have the same fear of men, plus I love chocolate and can exercise again! The fact that I am here today is a witness to God’s greatness to me. Now He’s my very own Abba, Father, Daddy, and Papa.