Daddy, I Forgive You

Having been robbed of the kind of normal childhood that many children take for granted, I have majored in the details of life, both good and bad, and that has made me who I am.

Staying five years in a hospital because of a devastating attack of polio took me away from my family and from the father of my youth. When I returned home at the age of six, I started getting attached to my father. At the age of ten, after additional corrective surgery, my father left our lives.

Those formative years without him caused my life to go into a massive, deadly spiral toward all things bad. I was confused, lonely, and sometimes depressed. My hatred for him grew almost daily.

I learned to steal because I was hungry. We received no support from him. The man who had left us began another family and never even tried to contact me. This drove me toward having a hatred for him that I wanted everyone to know. Stealing became easy. I started doing it for other reasons, such as to gain the acceptance of my peers.

After losing interest in school and while trying to pull through the common nightmares that would wake me, I was rescued when God began to speak to my heart in various ways. I ignored that help until finally, at fifteen years old, I couldn't push that voice away any longer. I surrendered my heart to Christ.

Although I had been forgiven, I had not been faced with forgiving the man who had destroyed me. The years went by, and the inevitable happened. I accidentally met him. It was my daddy. After a verbal fight, I was told that I was never allowed to see him again-even in death.

After I became a husband, a father, and a pastor, I realized that I had to forgive the man who had divorced me when I was a child and penalized me when I was a young man and was privately waiting for me to reach him.

Being faced with the opportunity to seek him out, reach him in love, and forgive him, I did just that. The opportunity to be reunited with this man wasn't easy, but I did just that. I met him, forgave him, and spent many wonderful days over the next few years with him.

He left me when I was at my most vulnerable, but I came into his life when he was at his most vulnerable too.

The past now being dead to both of us, I fell in love with him with a love that I never even dreamed was possible. Being called to be with him, I made the choice to make up for the time that we had both lost.

The previous dead, dark, lonely years were erased and replaced with months of laughter, father-son talks, visits, phone calls, and opportunities to say "I love you." I was barely away from his bedside when they called and told me he had died. I had not just lost my newfound friend; I had lost my daddy. I will never get over that.


--Dr. Bob Vance