Below is a letter from the known Actor, director, screenwriter, playwright Tyler Perry. I received this letter months ago from Tyler Perry himself when I signed up through his mailing list. It’s a letter he wrote privately to a friend who is struggling with forgiveness for an absentee father. I have this posted in my office at work because it reminds me that we are human and as humans we make mistakes that affect us in many ways. Some mistake are realized and some are not but in spite of we have to learn to forgive and move past our wrongdoing and others. As a counselor I deal with feelings almost everyday, teaching children and adults the skills for dealing with feelings. Such as knowing your feelings, expressing your feelings and understanding the feelings of others. Tyler Perry’s letter to his friend open my own eyes on feelings and forgiveness. I’m sure you have heard the statement “When you forgive it’s not for the other person, it’s for you”. Such a true statement because when you forgive someone for wronging you or spitefully misusing you you gain a strength that has more power than you can imagine. The dictionary defines forgiveness as the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. For Christians forgiveness is throughout the bible such as in Matthew 6:14-15, For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. This say’s that our Heavenly Father loved us enough to forgive us for our sins and if we want to live and be more like him we have to exercise forgiveness just as well. So exercise forgiveness and see the power of God in your life…
I wrote this note privately to a friend of mine whose father has never been there for him. Even though he’s not a kid anymore and is a husband and soon to be a father himself, he’s still being affected by it. I told him I would share it with you because I know that there are millions of you in this same situation. I used to be there too. Here’s what I wrote to him.
Your dad is getting older and facing his mortality. He’s going to become a different man soon. In life, we all become different people. At 20, you’re not the same person you are at 50, and if you are, something is wrong. We are built to evolve. Life is an oven that will incubate us into change. Most times it’s for the better, although there are some people that are so resistant to it that sometimes they won’t change. But if he remains the same that’s ok too.
My challenge to you my friend is to start looking at your father like a person. Not the man you see but the boy he was, how he grew up, what he went through. Realize that just like you have had, he has had his own life, pain, heartbreak, struggles, secrets, disappointments and sadness. In other words, he had a life and a story long before you were born and in that life he wasn’t given the tools to be what you needed him to be.
As a parent your job is to help your child pack a suitcase for this journey called life. Just like when you go on a trip you pack everything you need. This is the same thing. You must help that child pack love, faith, confidence, patience, joy, hope, how to give love, how to accept it, faith and God. All these things and so much more should be in that suitcase and if they aren’t, that child is going to have a tough life. Find out what’s in your father’s suitcase. It will help you understand. What’s in his suitcase is not an excuse for the way he treats you, but it is a part of your understanding of him.
I know he’s a closed door and I know you don’t know much about him, but if he won’t tell you then maybe there is a family member on his side of the family that can tell you his story. His past is important in understanding your present. Do you understand? At any rate, I don’t care who or what he is. I’m just glad he was used to bring such a great and awesome soul to this world, whether he will ever know it or not. I thank him for that. I thank him for you. I love you my friend.