When Parents Fail

I’m 25. I have student debt, a credit card bill, and want an electric toothbrush for my 26th birthday, which means for all intents and purposes, I’m an adult now.

It’s an awkward time for me and my parents. They’re no longer super human or omniscient in my eyes. I love respect, and honor them, but I realize that they are not invincible. They are two human beings, just like me, and are flawed, just like me. They don’t know it all, and they are still broken in some ways.

I don’t think I fully understood that growing up – that my parents are people, and by default, imperfect. But as I work on my own life and wrestle against my own dysfunction, I begin to see the grown up cycles of pain perpetuated in my parents. I see their mistakes, their shortcomings, and miss the things they failed to give me when I was growing up.

With this newfound outlook, it’s almost easy to be judgmental, to cast shame, to burden them with my own inadequacy, to blame them for my poor choices that resulted from them not choosing to interrupt patterns of pain. So I’ve been praying for compassion, for the kind of love that allows me to really understand them in a way that I haven’t before – as a man and a woman, as a sister and a brother, as a husband and a wife, not just as a mother and a father.

As I talked more and more to Yahweh about my own struggles, I began to think a lot about members of my generation who are currently building families of their own, and are being made painfully aware of all the parental tools they weren’t given, all the experiences they didn’t have, all the relational intimacy they didn’t receive, and all the love that wasn’t shown to them.

I feel the bitterness, the rage, the anger directed toward the people who were entrusted with your soul, entrusted with raising you into the whole, empowered, and authentic version of you, and totally failed.

I feel the hatred that’s been mounting for a short lifetime against parents who abused their babies, who allowed their own dysfunction to spill over into their actions. My heart aches for the people who have had to learn to navigate this world without the protection, guidance, and affection of a mother and a father. And I am overwhelmed by the sense of loss that you feel for having to face adulthood alone, with no help, with no clear or healthy model of what it means to parent well, to live well, to love well and be loved.

I feel for those of you who find yourselves caught in vicious cycles of abuse and addiction that you did not choose, those of you who are trapped in the middle of a life that’s suffocating you, raising children in the wake of your own tragic childhoods, making poor decision after poor decision but have no idea what the next right one could possibly be.

I hear you – those of you that are being thrust into life at a disadvantage, those of you who never knew your dad, or have a mom you hate.

I see you – those of you who are lost in life, overwhelmed with grief, confused about why you’re here and why they didn’t want you.

But I’m standing here as a sister in love, a fellow sibling of the world’s Creator, our Daddy Elohim. He knows and loves you even if you don’t know, love, or believe in Him. And He’s burdened me with this message I feel unfit but implored to deliver to you.

You have to forgive your parents.

You have to heal past the brokenness that has haunted you all your life. You have to break free from the tattered mold that circumstances beyond your control have pressed you into. You have to evolve beyond the pain of your past and find a way to release the people who never raised you for not doing their job, for not accepting the challenge.

You have to do it, because you have to make a change. You have to be happy. You have to find peace. You have to be free from the shame that has haunted your lineage for decades. You have to choose freedom over fear, and victory over defeat. YOU have to.

Why you? Because you’re the chosen one. You have been hand-picked from centuries’ worth of sons and daughters to free your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren from the unforgiveness that has bound your ancestry.

It’s you.

You have been selected from your lineage to turn the page on pain, and begin a new Chapter called ‘FREEDOM’.

And the journey begins with this: with forgiving your parents.

You have to forgive them for not choosing you when they should have.

Forgive them for satisfying their desires before they provided your basic needs.

Forgive them for being selfish with their time and their money.

Forgive them for not being whole enough to heal for you  or strong enough to try harder.

Forgive them for not showing up when it mattered most.

Forgive them for projecting their insecurities on you and making you ashamed when you shouldn’t have been.

Forgive them for not being healthy enough to love you the way you deserve to be loved.

Forgive them for not trying harder to find a way out of struggle so that you could be free from it.

Forgive them for not being a better communicator, and for not caring enough to figure it out.

Forgive them for not getting to know you, for not accepting you for who you are, for making you figure out your identity without their support or assistance.

Forgive them for choosing the wrong partner again and again.

Forgive them for not believing you when you said they hurt you.

Forgive them for not making the right decisions.

Forgive them for not understanding who you were called to be.

Forgive them for being selfish, for picking you last, for loving your siblings more than you.

Forgive them for not asking Yahweh to show them the seeds of purpose He buried inside you, and for not watering those seeds.

Forgive them for making you feel small so that they could feel big.

Forgive them for treating you like the trash they believed they were.

Forgive them for shouting when they should have spoken.

Forgive them for beating when they should have shown affection.

Forgive them for not knowing how to be affectionate.

Forgive them for not saying how proud they were of you.

Forgive them or not being brave enough to face the demon you have to fight now.

Forgive them for not being who you needed them to be.

Forgive them for not being willing to face their truths.

Forgive them for not knowing, for not being perfect or even acceptable.

Forgive them for not seeing how bad they hurt you, for treating you like a burden, for hurting you as badly as they were hurt.

Forgive them for taking your pain for rebellion, for punishing when they should have held you, for shaming when they should have affirmed you.

Forgive them for not knowing how to face, handle, or properly correct the shards of their own brokenness that managed to find their way into your life.

Forgive them…release them from the bond we as children hold our parents to. Release them so that your hands can be free to receive the bounty that forgiveness brings. Release them so that your heart can be light enough to find peace. Process the tragedy of your childhood so that you can build a stellar adulthood. Don’t do it again – don’t bury it again, isolate again, stew in misunderstanding and inconceivable pain again.

You need to be free from bitterness and anger and hatred and disgust and pride. Your justification is not worth holding on to. Yes, they weren’t who they were supposed to be, they failed miserably, they didn’t do their best, they abandoned you, they left you, but you made it. You are here. And it is time to step into the identity that their brokenness almost buried, but didn’t.

It is time to start new traditions, to love in a way you’ve never experienced or seen. It is time to learn for your children’s sake, for your own sake.

It sounds and feels unfair because it is. Grace, forgiveness, and mercy are always an unfair exchange because you, who have been deprived or robbed of a precious possession, must now give something more to an unworthy party. They don’t deserve it, and they could never earn it. But in order for you to be free, you have to give it.

How do we do it? How do we truly forgive people who have hurt us so badly? We ask for help from the One who does it daily.

We ask Yahshua for help.

As much as we don’t want it to happen, forgiveness often begins with compassion. For some reason, once we are able to comprehend the magnitude of someone’s brokenness, it makes it easier for us to release them. By release I don’t mean forget what they did, I mean take back the power that anger against them has taken from us.

Compassion may be inconceivable for you at this point. And while you may never understand why they did what they did, trust me when I tell you that Yahshua has a way of changing our perceptions of people so that we can see them in a way that allows us to move past the pain they inflicted on us.

He’s pretty awesome that way – miraculous is more like it. His ways are not our ways, and I do not know another way I would be able to move past some of the things many of you are facing without the help of the Holy Spirit. I honestly do not know.

Would you try Him? I believe He wants nothing more than to help you forgive the people you hate most so that you can be free to receive His love in a way that will change not just your life, but the lives of every member of every generation after you.

Do it for your children, do it for yourself. You deserve to be happy, and whole, and loved, and cherished. You deserve so much more than a life haunted by the demons that raped you of your innocence and deprived you of peace in your childhood. You deserve more…so much more.

Be encouraged.


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