Words of Hope: The Generational Journey

When I first met Shann’s father Tom, he seemed very distant. We would enter the house after having traveled far to get there, and Tom would remain on the couch and give us a two-finger greeting while continuing to watch TV. I was appalled. Where is the love? Where is the welcome? I marched over to the couch and asked Tom for a hug which he sheepishly and thankfully gave. During our first years of marriage, Shann and his father rarely touched, and if Shann did try and hug his father, Tom slapped his back hard enough to make the experience unpleasant. 

My dad encouraged Shann to persist. He recommended Shann write letters often, call his parents, and meet with his dad on a yearly fishing or camping weekend. Shann followed through with Dad’s recommendations and intentionally worked to bring healing. He took his mom out to dinner and asked her if he could seek forgiveness for how he was rude to or mistreated her as a young man. She decided she would like to ask his forgiveness as well. Their meal left them both in tears, holding hands and thankful for the other.

However, when the whole family came together, Shann and I often needed to regroup in the bedroom and pray together. Tension, criticism, escapism through work or TV, anger, and overt dislike dominated the scene. We struggled to remember our plan to listen, love, ask forgiveness, and show deep care. Instead, we sought to get away, isolate, judge, criticize, gossip, alienate and dislike. 

Now when we come to visit, Tom greets us at the door. He is full of hugs and even ready to give a kiss on the cheek. He hugs Shann without reservation, with depth and kindness. Time together is peaceful and enjoyable. A spirit of grace and ease descends. Shann cries with his family, and he firmly says no without feeling dominated. 

This journey from distance to closeness, from non-emotion to emotion, was a lengthy process of about fifteen years. I am so grateful to my Dad and Mom for their will to forgive their fathers and for providing insight on their journey of forgiveness.

“Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live.” – Ezekiel 18:19