“Have we allowed the devil a foothold in our legacy because of unresolved conflict, anger, hurt, and the inability to forgive? Our Father is greater and mightier than any conflict. The very fact we could hold on to unresolved issues is a sign:a sign we do not trust God, we do not believe He has the power to resolve, and He is not first in our lives.”
“We give the enemy a foothold to control and destroy our legacy whenever the sun goes down while we are still angry. Today, how many times has the sun gone down over unresolved issues? Are issues still unresolved up till now? Right now is the moment to put an end to issues!”
“God wants us to answer this question: Why is it hard to obey God’s warning signs?God has made it very clear: DO NOT LET THE SUN GO DOWN WHILE YOU ARE STILL ANGRY.Anything unresolved is detrimental to our legacy. God has already warned us countless times, if the sun goes down while we are still angry, the devil has a foothold.”
– Lee Shaun Zhen
Fidra Jewellers, Meeting House Lane, Brighton, UK (actual store)
As I walked past a jewelry story in the center of Brighton, I walked past a window of men’s jewelry and was overtaken by the sense that my heart had just fallen out from my chest. An aching hole was suddenly apparent that I didn’t know still existed. It been six years, this month, since I lost my father; A loss that I understand was inevitable with time, but the aftermath of what happened cut me deeper then anything I could have possibly prepared myself for.
When I was in high school, my stepmother abruptly left my father and tried to drain every penny from him. Three years later he would meet and marry wife number four who would not overtly drain every penny from him in life, would not mourn his loss in death, only his paycheck. On the day my father died in the hospital, in the presence of my husband, my godparents, and myself she would cry not for the death of her husband but how she would pay for things now.
For a month she hesitated to hold a memorial service because she was angry he didn’t leave her with “enough” money. With a house hold full expensive objects, jewelry and other things, she was angry she didn’t have the money to take her grandkids on cruises and expensive vacations, or be able to go to Reno and gamble with her girlfriends. My brother flew up immediately after our fathers death, and even in his presence, all she could do was bemoan the fact that he “left [her] penniless.” No condolences, no sympathy for the loss of his father whom he was estranged to, only an outpouring of pure greed, hardly masked for sheer politeness. This is what hurts like a fiery stinging in the pit of my chest.
After my father’s death, I did everything I could to reach out to my stepmother, while at the same time caring for my now six month old daughter and a severe case of what I would find out later was anxiety manifesting itself as severe vertigo. I offered to help her clear out my father’s belongings, which was rebuffed with many excuses. Knowing she must be overwhelmed I pushed and pushed to let me help her with this burden, only to be told outright that I was not allowed to go through anything.
She just asked me what I wanted of my father’s possessions. Being in a state of shock, overwhelmed with a baby, and unable to even drive or look after myself without help due to my vertigo-anxiety, I could hardly think straight, let alone think about any personal items my father may have had that I wanted. What I wanted was my father! What I wanted was to sit in the chair he sat in, smell his clothes, rifle through his desk and remember him. I never got the chance. I was shut out.
Walking past the jewelry store in Brighton made me remember fond memories of going through stores such as that, talking with the proprietor about where such and such a stone came from and the stories that went along with it. My father loved people and their stories, and to share his as well. I suddenly remembered the tiny cache of valuable stones he’d collected through the years, and with a heavy heart all I could do was lament the fact that wife number four has probably already sold them.
I have come so far in the last six years, literally and figuratively. Moving to London put some distance between me and the heartache of losing my father and the vile behaviour of my step mother. The welling of grief which cuts like a knife in the pit of my stomach as eased tremendously. I no longer ache and burn with anger towards my step mother, now I feel truly sorry for her.
She is a Japanese-American, raised as a Buddhist in post-war Seattle. Her world was not a friendly one, and she was not raised with the grace of forgiveness or with the love of Christ. Even though she is a convert to Christianity, it is so obvious that she never has learned to trust God to provide all of her needs. To her, Christianity is a religion of rules with the ultimate prize: A trip to heaven. She doesn’t understand the great love of Our Father in heaven and how He wants her to come to rely on Him for everything.
“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” -Matthew 6:26-34
I grew up with this parable of the birds. I used to watch the birds eating as a child and think that each grain and insect they ate was placed there in that exact place, for that exact bird, by God. How comforting it is to truly know that God will provide. Over the years God has proved himself reliable, time and time again. When I begin to rely on myself, I fail miserably, completely. Only when I humble myself before God and seek Him in earnest do I see a change in my circumstances. My heart is heavy for this woman who doesn’t understand this.
For years I have been so angry, but I have been praying for her and praying that God would show me the way through to forgiveness. While I know my father was not a perfect man, and quite difficult most of the time, he was still my dad, and now he is gone forever from this life. I also firmly believe being married to her was a detriment to his health and mental wellbeing, and I blame her for that. It was this very point that I had to get over in order to begin my internal healing process and take the first steps on the road to forgiveness.
“Therefore each of you must put off false hood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:25-27
My anger toward my step-mother ate at me from the inside out. It also corroded the very relationship I have cultivated with God. I kept trying to forgive her, but each time something new would surface. The enemy kept playing the game of, “And what about this…” and I would fall prey to it and my anger would reignite. I wasn’t ready to forgive, to let go, to see her forgiven. I wanted her to suffer. Yet in the end, the only one suffering from my anger was me.
Sometimes it is not just about saying you forgive someone and moving on, it is about saying it and claiming it again and again. Un-forgiveness and anger had quite a hold on me. But taking the time to dig in deep and root out these two vile things I was able, in the end, to see the situation how God see’s it, with compassion and love. We can only do what we know, and I have learned that sometimes I expect to much out of people. People who have not experienced true unconditional love do not recognise it, especially in the face of God, and I can not expect them to understand what to me is a concept as simple as breathing. I have to allow people to come to God on their own terms, in their own time.