By Dave Andrusko
This post by Theresa Bonopartis is so nuanced, so intricate, so painful and brave that it signals one thing to me: say something but first and foremost direct readers to the source.
The headline is “Forgiving the Parent Who Forced Me Into an Abortion.” That parent was her dad. As a father of three adult daughters, that hit home….hard.
Let me offer two thoughts about a post that, coming just a few days before Easter, is perfectly timed.
#1. “Each time something happened that brought my hurt to the surface, I needed to forgive again, and to be patient with him [her dad] and myself,” Bonopartis writes. “This is a lesson I have had to learn over and over again, through the years, and a choice I have had to make again and again.”
To state the obvious, this is easier–much, much easier–said than done. I have spoken to many post-abortive women over the years and I know how often the “choice” was in no real sense theirs. But is it not far worse when your own dad coerces you into aborting his grandchild?
Yet what is the alternative? To hold onto “my anger, my bitterness and my impatience,” which is a 100% understandable reaction? No. As she observes, “Christ loved me through my failures to forgive my anger, my bitterness and my impatience, and it is through that love, in the midst of my deep pain, that forgiveness could finally dawn.”
#2. Bonopartis beautifully explains to us how “One lesson of Christ’s passion has suddenly really hit home.” She writes
At times like these, when we truly know what it means to be brokenhearted, we discover that Jesus is close to us, if we only seek him out. When people we have loved and trusted have betrayed us, whether intentionally or due to their own failings, who knows the betrayal of friends better than Jesus?
“Whether intentionally or due to their own failings.” When a parent–or a boyfriend or a husband–fails that ultimate test; when instead of support and strength they offer dismissal and weakness, the first impulse is (understandably) to attribute this to an intentional act.
And, clearly, that can and often is the explanation. But it is also true that we so often unhappily come up short, not because of an intentional desire to hurt, but out of our own pool of frailties.
And if that is true for men, how much more true is it for a girl who is under pressure we can never begin to understand.
On this all-important topic of forgiveness and the lesson we take away from Jesus’ loving response to his disciples’ betrayal, Bonopartis concludes
Will I ever get it right in this life? It seems to me what matters is that I desire to forgive offenses willingly and to bear wrongs patiently, and that I begin anew each time I fall, knowing it is only through his grace that I can succeed.