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The Art of Forgiveness

It's one o'clock in the morning, Amara is squealing and crying echoing throughout the entire house. I'm trying my best to calm her, digging in my bag of fatherly remedies scattering to pull a successful one out. She cried when I laid her down and when I picked her up, she rejected the bottle and the teething ring. I was at a loss, asking my 11 month old what was wrong wishing she could respond coherently.

She cried for a hour and a half straight and my mom finally came and got her promising to sooth her and bring her back. Collapsing onto the bed in exhaustion and defeat, I stared at the ceiling fan which rotated at medium speed. Reflecting on former articles that I've written that explained this feeling of inadequacy, a recurring sentiment.

As tired as I was, I still tossed and turned as my mind raced to run away from the thoughts that started to seep through. The anger I felt in feeling like I should already have the hang of this, I mean, technically, this was my second go round. Even though it feels like the first, actually getting to watch Amara grow from week to week.

Still running the circular cerebral track I tried to tune everything out and listen to the whooshing of the blades. Often I play rain sounds or soft beats while I sleep so I figured that it might help. Changing positions and flipping my pillow I lay on my stomach with my right ear smashed into the pillow and my eyes slammed shut.

Clenching so tight I could feel my knuckles turning white, letting out a quiet scream conscious of my brother sleeping in the other bed. It's mind boggling, how one event can spark emotions from the past. It seems like I take steps forward but nights like these make me feel as if I doubled back twice over.

Listening to various sermons and reading literature, I'm told that becoming stronger is from going through situations and not running from them. Often, I hear of Paul having a thorn in his side and how he asked God on multiple occasions to relieve him of his pain. His iconic answer has reverberated throughout the believing community and allows us to accept that His grace is sufficient.

Sometimes I ask myself does the grace extend to those who put themselves in certain situations. Will there be grace when I look my grown daughters in their face and tell them why their family structure is unlike others. Will there be grace when Amelia sees my relationship with Amara and wonder why ours can't be on the same level.

I speak to the ceiling and ask when does it become sufficient? Especially when I see the insufficiency in my own understanding of the events unfolding before me. Telling myself that I will become a better man after it's all said and done, that the pain has a purpose.

Holding on to versus like Romans 5:3-5 "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

Even if one is not a believer, the Bible has some powerful passages that will help guide in the direction of peace and love. One of the hardest things for me was finding glory or some type of positivity in the midst of it all. It can be hard when you feel there isn't a way out, like the walls are caving in, like I'm going to suffocate. I feared I was going to die in that state of mind.

My final thoughts before my eyes slowly faded from reality into the dream world. I don't remember when my mom brought Amara back but I was startled awake when she kicked out striking me in the ribs. Aware of her presence I change the fan speed and adjusted myself to let her small frame take over the bed. I find it amazing how much space they manage to occupy forcing me to grasp on to the edge remembering not to roll over.

Getting an early start the next morning, preparing a bottle and reading a daily devotional. I try not to put Amara down at this time because she will start screaming higher than a tea kettle, and the openness of the house will wake everyone earlier than anticipated.

The frustrations of last night resurfaced when part two ensued and nothing I was doing was soothing my baby girl. I want nothing more than to be the best father for her, and even though watching her cry in my face is not a determining factor. To me, it's more than not being able to comfort her but the lack of connection that I have with her that is allowing that to happen.

I have conversations with family and friends that negate my notion, but nobody can tell me how I feel. It's probably from the scars that still haven't properly healed from, but I believe I hold myself to a higher standard. I expect more from myself, I don't accept failure or defeat. I'm not accepting that I can't obtain the relationship that I desire with my kids. Where they want to be with me just as much as their mothers and reaching for me regardless of who else is in the room.

Maybe I am being unfair for thinking in this particular way, but can you blame me? I want them to know that my love is unconditional, it has no bounds, there is nothing in this world that will permanently keep them from me. I will jump every hurdle crawl in any valley and fly over any mountain to prove myself to them.

I don't want to be one of them fathers hated by their children.

The morning went on as I tried my hardest not to stare off into space slipping into my own world seeing and hearing things that weren't there. Every Sunday we listen in on our home church and then Michael Todd, a pastor out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. His message was on forgiveness, which caught my attention because I was in the process of entertaining malicious thoughts.

Hearing the title of the message I almost hopped off the couch and headed upstairs to avoid the conviction I knew was coming.

Why am I forgiving? I can forgive her but doesn't mean I will be any closer to seeing my daughter, especially knowing that she is living freely without regard for anybody but herself. I'd openly forgive her, and even be her friend, if I knew for a fact that I will be able to be in Amelia's life. How can I truly forgive her without a change in the situation?

I was wronged, so why am I the one stuck in the middle of forgiveness and bitterness. I'm supposed to move forward but the anger and rage that creates the barrier between Amelia and I has yet to be removed. No matter how hard I try, fight, and plead.

The answer was made plain, he simply said. "You can't forgive others because you don't believe God truly forgives you." The statement furrowed my brow causing me to look up from my phone and hone in on the next words. He stated that if we fully understood God's grace and compassion we wouldn't have a choice but to spread that to the next person, because it's realized how much the individual needs forgiveness from God.

Notwithstanding the sins committed, we are all in the same category and in need of the same type of deliverance. So, if I needed it from God why can't she get it from me?

Man, it sucks being a believer. Talking about holding myself to a higher standard. I shake my head at the idea of being the bigger person and swallowing my pride. Something I feel runs deeper among the black community.

Wrestling with the times that I noticeably refused God denying his place in my life, and how I'm still forgiven. I've come to the realization that it's so easy to stay bitter yet seemingly impossible to forgive, and those that can, are better because of it. If you can forgive someone who has wronged you and is continuing to do so, that's a special person.

Mentally tough. Something I pride myself on and believe was enforced after attending The Citadel. Now, I have to wonder how tough I actually am still struggling to get over the pain that wants to keep me in the past.

I want to forgive, I have to, but I also want my baby. Maybe, just maybe, it will have more of an effect than I could imagine. I send off a litany of text in hopes of getting a response that will lead to me seeing Amelia. That next morning I received a text that lead to back and forth banter that ended with her telling me it's entertaining seeing me beg.

Everything aforementioned sounds good and practical, but one question still begs for an answer.

How?


Amelia and Amara, daddy loves you.

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