Forgiving Our Fathers

Deep in the heart of every man lies a pure desire. A desire to provide, to protect, to do well for themselves and those in their care. As we grow in age and wisdom, we come to a point where we can look back and reflect upon the man who raised us. What role did he play? How does his transmission of masculine energy affect us in our daily lives?

For many of us, we had distant fathers. Fathers who worked and toiled with their hands, time, and energy to provide a better life. And yet more often than not, it came at a cost. Distant fathers who often were physically present, yet whose mental and emotional energies were often eaten up during days spent working with others or staring at screens. In their daily homecomings, often their own only place of sanctuary, can we blame them for perhaps desiring space and stillness from the swirl of children and play?

The masculine energies inside us deeply desire stillness, consciousness, and in many cases what can look like solitude. Sadly, in the modern industrious age, many of our fathers either were never given this space, or even had the awareness this was what they were seeking.

Charged with taking care of the family, often they did not have the inner resources or awareness of what it meant to take care of themselves. Ironically, this resulted in similar patterns we find many men and women still acting out today, that of distraction, passive aggressive behavior, and detachment.

Did we learn these patterns from our fathers? Or are these merely the most convenient ways humans cope with the stress of modern age?

In many cases, our fathers’ most intangible gift to the next generation was space and ground to discover things such as emotional intelligence, energy attunement, and the broader needs of what it means to be a human.

Often the deepest wounding for our fathers is not being acknowledged for the challenge and struggle they faced while raising a family. So many fathers go far too long without hearing from the lips of their sons and daughters that what they did made a difference, that it was appreciated, that it mattered.

For many of us, the greatest gift we can offer to our fathers is an invitation that cannot be overlooked. That of forgiving our fathers.

Forgiving them for all the reasons we felt they didn’t do good enough, for all the times they acted in ways that had us feeling scared, confused, and alone. Forgiving them for their confusion and their own unresolved parental woundings, and recognizing how many just did not have the level of shared information, emotional education, and spiritual vocabulary that many us are now privileged to exercise.

Forgiving them for all the ways we now see how they raised us affects our lives, both good and bad, and seeing the heart of a man who in many cases silently struggled with the same with internal dissonance of a capitalistic culture many of us now recognize as foundationally broken and flawed in its approach to human being.

Practically, it may be useful to speak the words, share with siblings and loved ones, or even write a letter which allows the emotion of appreciation and forgiveness to be felt. In fact, for real healing to occur it is often as essential for us to feel these emotions as it is for our fathers.

It is important to note that these emotions don’t have to be happy and that there may never be a resolution. If the wounds are too deep, they’ve already passed on, or the distance between your hearts is simply too great know that this process can be as much for ourselves as it is for our father. As we gift this to our fathers, with no expectation and only reverence for what they did, or tried to do, or even failed to do, we create a clearer space for ourselves and our own daughters and sons.

This process can be confronting and it may take time, especially if our upbringing came with flavors of trauma, as it requires us to take deep personal responsibility for what has happened to us in our lives. This isn’t always fair. What happened, or didn’t happen, isn’t always right. But until we step forward from victim and blame to ownership and empowerment, we will still only be children raising children, instead of men and women raising up ourselves and the next generation towards a shared vision of hope, goodness, and peace.

~ Justin Lee


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