FamilyMeal_21041870Many times I have chewed on a passage in the Bible, in the seventeenth chapter of Acts, that seems to say that God has specifically put us in his family of choice for us at his specific time for us here on earth. God says he does so for our benefit, that we may become frustrated and have a chance to reach out to him. I guess that’s why all families seem to be dysfunctional at some level. So we hurt and look to God for parental advice and healing.

Pain makes sense to me now. Strange to say but I now see some pain as a gift. Nobody in the history of the world has had to live my life and no one ever will. Therefore, I have learned to thank God for the wounds that he has structured this world to give me—the people in my life that have caused me to run to him. I like to talk about those scars now and sometimes display them with pride. No longer covering them up. I am very thankful that God has put me in my family. I love my parents and our somewhat damaged family tree very much.

I am also not so arrogant to think that I have not given out a few gashes myself; especially to the ones I love. I am aware that I have wielded a knife, mostly my tongue, and hurt people. I hope the cuts aren’t too deep.

Over the years, I have learned to talk in softer tones with my wife and two boys but I would be lying to say I am perfect. Every now and then I catch myself yelling without even knowing it. I have also learned to apologize to my kids after I blow it. Telling someone you are wrong and sorry for your actions goes a long way toward forgiveness. So far they have always been quick to forgive me.

USA Today once featured an article about “The Psychology of Happiness.” The article focused on a study that only examined people who were happy. The number-one characteristic of those who enjoy their lives and are truly happy was forgiveness.

In other words, happy people can forgive. I guess handing out a pardon to someone with your heart and really meaning it, is very liberating. I have begun to experience that.

Forgiving and loving my earthly father despite his shortcomings and failures has been one of the greatest feelings that I have ever come to experience. It has been very healing, a pure salve that has covered my heart.

Excerpted from the book Free Byrd: The Power of a Liberated Life by Paul Byrd (Howard Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster). Copyright © Paul Byrd. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the author.