The Beautiful Struggle to Forgive


Watch your favorite focus on the family broadcasts on Youtube. Subscribe to our Channel at focus on the family dot com slash youtube and get your daily dose of family. Strengthening encouragement subscribe and watched today at focus on the family dot com slash youtube. Just told him verbally told him that. Julie I forgive. Forgive you and I'm sorry for what you're going through now. Two things happened. There wasn't an immediate forgiveness. It's all done. I exuded the forgive process process but I realized at that moment that the forgiveness wasn't for my dad even though I had to tell him it was for me. That's it's Jason Romano Talking About Forgetting His Alcoholic Dad and you'll hear more of his story today on focus on the family. Your host is focused president and author Jim Daly Ellie and I'm John Fuller. Okay John. I have a challenge for the listeners. Today think of that person who has hurt you deeply. I mean to the point where maybe you even haven't forgiven them yet. might be a parent a sibling. A friend former spouse maybe a work colleague. Now ask yourself this. Have I truly extended forgiveness. Because that's on your side of the equation. Has Nothing really to do with them. The one who offended you forgiveness is complex and we get that. It doesn't excuse Abusir a harmful behavior of course but forgiving. Someone does mean that you'll let go of bitterness and leave revenge I would say judgment up to God Someone once said forgiveness is surrendering my right to hurt you for hurting me and I think that's a powerful way to sum it up John for us as Christians Showing mercy to those who have harmed us can be one of the most beautiful ways to display. God's amazing grace to hurting world. That's the testimony of us as believers levers and our guest. Today is a wonderful example of just that I would agree. Jim And as I said Jason Romano is our guest. He's an Emmy Award winning a sports journalist a former ESPN producer husband and dad and has a book that we are offering today. Live to forgive moving forward when windows. We love hurt us. We've got copies of that at the website. You can look for details in the episode notes. Jason Welcome to focus on the family guys. It's great to be here. Thanks so much for having. Yeah well I WANNA say good job and being a wonderful husband and father but then I wanna talk to you about being a sports journalist to most of the order. I appreciate the way I need to thank you so it's pretty fun to work at. ESPN yeah only cow. It was a dream job. It really was in many ways and I got to work there for almost seventeen years. I did production mostly behind the scenes but got to spend time with some of my heroes got to meet and become friends with some of my heroes that I grew up with the person who the forward to the book is. Is Darrell Strawberry. Who is my sports hero? He's been on the broadcast. He's a great guy and he was my hero jerseys and kept his stats and Hasselbald. I just baseball cards and suddenly I'm spending a day with him. ESPN so yeah. It was an amazing amazing opportunity. Let me ask you this off the wall questions. I mean when it comes to us as believers and and we are in a sports saturated environment. I love sports too. I played in high school playing baseball football basketball. How do we as believers? How do we peel back a little bit? So so it doesn't become an idol. You know it's so hard. I think this is so hard and you're talking to a guy who sports was my God for so many years. Even after I I became a Christian I became a Christian at twenty six twenty seven. I had to Kinda learn in a slow way. That sports really isn't that important to the grand scheme of life but you know. Sports is such connection Jason especially between fathers and sons and this was really your story and it was hard for you. You had a pretty positive view of your dad until one night. I think you're at a football game or a baseball game What happened? And I'm telling Ellen Yeah I so relate to your story because I think we had the same father but he hit it it's probably Fortunately common with a lot of people who are listening my dad. You Know My earliest memories of my dad. My parents got divorced when I was six. So I really didn't have a a ton of memories of mom and dad being in the same house. I haven't really no memories of that so it was always kind of like spend the weekend with dad and spend the week during the week with Mom but my Dad Love Sport Love Sports and loves sports and I mean he just I. That's all we still talk about to this day. And so my memories of him are pretty much all revolved around sports. Good and unfortunately bad and and I write about adverse chapter in the book. I take you to Nineteen eighty-four and it's my first time ever going to an NFL game. It's the eagles and the giants. My Dad is a good one die. I hard giants Fan. And we all get in the car me and my two brothers and my dad and my step mom patty and we'd take the drive from Albany New York down down to Philadelphia and when you go to a game. I remember arriving and seeing this stadium and walking in and just seeing this giant one hundred hundred yard football field and thinking. Oh my Gosh I'm here. This is amazing A ten year old kid. That's just the greatest thing ever right. Eleven year old kid and as quickly clea as excited as I was to the game of star and so just really be laid with joy at turned sour really quickly because my dad who had been and drinking at that time and he was still on his early to mid thirties He's getting his drink San and getting his beer anymore sitting in the seven hundred level with these Rabbit Eagles fans and he's a giants fan and probably halfway through the game. I just remember my dad suddenly getting into this verbal sparring and lots of bad words words being said and I thought this is not right so I'm confused here what's happening. Why is this happening and my dad was unfortunately really intoxicated and then we had to drive home and it was the scariest four or five hour drive? I've ever remember as he did because he was drunk. He was drunk. Jason One thing. I caught in the book that really Captured my attention because a little boy. You Stop Calling Your Dad Dad and started referring to him as Joe his first name but it's connected to this disappointment appointment explain. Why did that? In what protection was it providing little Jason. Yeah it was weird because there were times what I call on Dad and there were times when I call him Joe and I figured looking back. It's funny you remember things as you start to write a book and all these memories come back Aquino things. I hadn't thought about dryers and I was working with my co author Steve Copeland and we were talking and working through it. And I'm like I think I called him Joe More than I call him dad growing up and then we're starting to expand on it and I realized a lot of the Times that I was calling him. Joe Is the Times that he had been drunk or hung the things that would embarrass me. And I'm like that's not my dad. That's just that's Joe. It's not my dad. My Dad is the guy who sober and supportive and loving which I didn't get a lot of and so I found myself calling him Joe a lot more than now I just resonated with that again having similar father. I never did that but I could understand the relief of doing that. This is not the guy I love. It wasn't because especially being so young. You're confused it wasn't till I was in my teenage years till I really started to see this man. I had a problem. Something really was wrong and off when I was eleven ten and younger it was more confusing than it. Was this normal. Everybody does my mind's not able to process that on a mature level teenagers. But you know I even took that with me. As I'm writing the book there were moments where I call him. Dad Even into my thirties and early forties. He's and there were moments when I write about him as Joe even writing the book so it was still Kinda resonating connected with that now. Forty five years old. Where was God in this picture for you? I mean I mean obviously I don't think your dad maybe your stepmom or your mom had real commitments of faith but did you sense. Did you have a kind of a child like belief that there must began a god or i. I grew up in a Catholic household but to be quite honest with you. I'd never heard or understood. Salvation Jesus faith the Cross grace. None of that. I really had no religious anything in my life. GROWNUP evolve for you then that that knowledge that awareness Nisus not until I was twenty six years old. It was my brother. Chris My middle brother. Who is the first family to be saved into beginning true relationship with Jesus Christ but after a few years in watching him live out this faith truly live it out not just everyday hammer it home? I'm to me but watching how he loved his wife how he loved his newborn child how he loved his family. It was different and it was attractive and it wasn't until two thousand one mother's Day One. He introduced me to Christ. And that's how the journey began. Yeah you have a story and this is really again. It caught my attention. You have a story where your feelings feelings of hatred so maybe it started with embarrassment. I mean I can relate again being embarrassed with your dad at that literally game which bears wrong and slurring and talking to the trump and he I know is thinking he's helping you while you're at bat but you WanNa just crawl into a hole because you're so embarrassed absolutely but then you talk about about a day that you can remember that embarrassment turned into hatred for your father described that hatred is is such a you know I think of the word hate now Alan I and I I hate the word. Hate is just such a hard thing to think about. But it's real it's very real and as my dad got older. And there's a lot of moments where I discovered hatred for my father if you want to call it that You know him calling me in college in asking me for money to college when I was in college. Remember I don't have money. I'm in college. No College student has money. And he's calling me and saying hey I'm behind on this or that and I need to borrow are a few dollars and completely wasted. When he's calling and then he calls and sort of the first time I ever heard him say that he wanted to end his life? When I was in college and I was so angry and bitter at him and at twenty years old not empathetic and wanting to help him? I was just stopped at him so mad. I can't I hate my dad but then a moment comes when I'm in my twenty four twenty five year old stage when he calls up and this is how bad it got for my dad and he's he's drunk and he calls me and he tells me that his wife Patti had had died in a fire. And we'd love Patty. She was step mom and so close. We hadn't seen her in a few years and so we're all very sad and he's crying thing in two or three days later. Maybe a week later he calls and he tells me he made up the whole story. Oh my goodness he made up the whole story and I said why would you do that. And he said listen I I don't know I saw him so sorry. It was just shows you the fact that he was so in such a bad place at this point this is one thousand nine hundred ninety seven or eight that he had to lie to try and get people to feel sorry for him and then he had to come and tell us what happened that he was lying about this whole thing and that it was a moment when I come up the phone I said to my wife I said I can't believe this guy really hate him. How can he lie about the death of his second wife and there were more stories like this unfortunately but it was a a pure hatred for this guy that I had to work through myself and this is pre Christ for me so I had to figure out what that meant to innocence hate? My Dad. Jason You have really set the table and I think the listeners fully grasp that emotion inside of view that hatred that had developed for your dad and some are connecting with you saying yeah. That was my dad to whatever their situation that that overwhelming sensitive I just wish this person was not in my life because it's so destructive. Yeah but then you begin to turn the corner you start to is in in your book you say you started to feel which was the first step to forgiveness? Help the person that hasn't put those two together. What would it mean to help? Help begin to feel I think at that point You know I call it feeling. The pain is what we're trying to do. acknowledging that there's pain you you know a lot of us when we're angry at some when we try to just suppress it or Put a big wall in front of an pretend. It's not there and for me. That's what I did for many years. I mean I I talk about when I went away to college. I looked at that sort of a boundary for me to get away from my dad. You know get away from all the garbage and crap that I was you know living through having him be close to me and around me in my life. When I started to feel the pain I think it was probably around the time when I had gotten back from college and I just met my now wife dawn and I'm having somebody to talk to and I also went and got some counseling early on? I didn't go through counselling as I got older. My counseling. Yeah I guess was was with the Lord and with you know my pastor and people like that but I went to a counselor before I became a Christian. I remember just bawling my eyes out in thinking. Why am I crying right now over this? Yeah I shouldn't be this man. I can't stand this guy. Why am I crying? And it's because I knew that I still cared about him five. There's grief it was almost like a person who would cry when somebody passes it was grief and it allowed me to begin the process of feeling and understanding thing that okay I have pain. It's not it doesn't feel good but it's there let's acknowledge it and not try to like push it away and ignore it because so many of us do that and and for me. That was really the first step in moving forward when I realized it eventually I had to come to a place to forgive him. Yeah and you mentioned Chinda Meeting Dawn. What amazing stabiliser? A spouse can't be that other perspective and you know I'm a big believer in Christian in relationship. That your spouse complete shoe. Yeah so you're blind spots. They often will be able to see things differently from how you see them. Oh she didn't and and be able to bring some reality right so true and my my wife You know we got married. We weren't neither of us were Christians got married in the Catholic Church but again didn't really have a faith or care about religion or God or anything like that but we had each other and even our motto at our wedding was to become one and so we we didn't even realize is when we were getting married that we were sort of living out the marriage and of Biblical sense the idea of to becoming one person which is which is right from the Bible but having that I am coup came from a very strong mom and dad together still together to this day relationship married over fifty years and have been together and and not knowing what it was like to be around such broken in that realm and so she comes into my life and I write about this in the book that I was almost scared to bring her into my crazy family. You know darasing ago my goodness they'll look over here don. Yeah don't worry about that. I just you and me. Don't worry about my crazy. Yeah Dad and all the guards going on and I remember the moment when she first saw the effect that my dad had my life and it was right before we were getting married and inviting my dad to my wedding. He had missed all of those big moments in my life. When I graduated from High School graduated from College? He missed him oh he was. He was in Rehab or Hawas Awas binge mode or whatever and just not doing well and he missed all of those what. I call pillar moments in a young person's life so I had no father to attend these things and celebrate with me and so at my wedding. I really wanted to have him there. It's like listen. He's missed everything else. Let's bring my dad to our wedding. My wife was great. She's like whatever you think is best you know. Oh Your Dad I'm all for we invite my dad and then like five days before week before I get a call and he's wasted drunk and I found out that he had been on a binge for five or or six days of drinking and I had to Uninvite my dad to the wedding. Say One thing you was hoping he could be there and my wife again was so great on supporting but I knew that this is her day. Even though it's our day this is her day said to be the perfect day November of nineteen ninety nine and so we uninvited. My Dad ad in dawn was greatly great and supportive but there was a void there. Yeah everything is a perfect day is one of my favorite days in my life but there was a void. Yeah let's talk about the twelve steps of forgiveness that you really go after in the book and we only have time to cover a couple of them but let's hit a couple that that really are important and then folks you need to get a copy of the book and we'll post those if we can't we'll post the twelve at the website so people can see that but What what are some of those important things in that twelve steps of forgiveness which so many steps I break the book down into feeling the pain evaluating trauma Alma transforming the wound and living to forgive. And I think it's the transforming. The wound was not necessarily in part of the twelve steps. If you will that that but I think that's a big one because when we get a hold of coup got it and understanding forgiveness that we ask for every single day right we come to God and we say Lord forgive me for the things. I've said that the things I've done things I've thought and then we turnaround in exude forgiveness to others literally putting a hand to God and saying I got this. I don't need you. I think that was exactly his point with the woman caught caught in adultery. Right yes that was the xactly point hand to the face and so I think one of those steps if you want to call it a step is to understand what God's odds forgiveness is about he exudes it to us for free. All we gotTA DO is ask. It's undeserving do nothing to earn it and it's there every day over everything that we've ever done that he forgives us. And so it's like the old prayer. I learned when I was in a Catholic boy. You know the our father The Lord's prayer forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. It's literally Jesus words telling us. This is what we need to do every we day. It's not easy because that pain is real and we've been hurt but the step the process the the move of understanding God in His forgiveness is about and then trying to do that to others looking at people with an empathetic heart looking at people in different ways not through our lens but through Gods Lens I think that's one of the big steps to go forth with is just understanding forgiveness aspect of Christ is in this kind of ties into the whole thing. How how you did that with your father? Yeah which is the right place to land. How did that happen for you with your dad? It was a process as I like to. I tell people forgiveness continues to be a process even after you sort of start that process but my dad was in a really bad place about six years ago or so so his alcoholism and drinking continued but he was compounding that with depression and he had a lot of mental illness things. What's going on in his life at that time and when you put alcohol and mental illness or depression together it's a recipe for disaster ways right and so my dad is really in a bad state in the middle of two thousand thirteen and I get a call one day in June of two thousand thirteen from a nurse at a hospital in Albany? New York. ORC telling me that my dad had tried to end his life that he got to the point where he just didn't WanNa live anymore and he took a bunch of pills and and try to end it but I guess he got really scared because he immediately called nine one one after he took those pills and the ambulance came took him to the hospital in and saved him. But I get this call from this nurse and just to give you an idea. This is only six years ago. How bitter I still was about my dad when I got the call from the nurse that He was in the hospital. For this reason. There was no empathy on my part. Yeah I just said really. I'm so sorry to hear that And she's like well. If you WANNA come and visit you know you can't. I said no I said thank you very much. I think I'm okay. That's a wounded person. Oh my gosh I was so I was so I was wounded and I had no empathy for this. I had no sorrow. I had no to be honest. I had no love in that way. but over a week's period and I remember going to a small group. Pastor was leading at Pastor Joe and I said to him ironically the same name as my dad and I said I I said I'm not really knowing what to feel right now and honestly before this I had pleaded and asked and told a lot of people about my dad's situation and asking for for prayer but I couldn't. It's like I always thought God can forgive you to Joe but I can't right you know that's how I looked at it in over the process of about a week I started talking to my pastor and he just said you need to read what Jesus talks about with forgiveness and how it doesn't matter what that person's persons done it's about it's about you and you got a lot of wounds right now and literally a week later I get on the phone with my dad and I talked to him at the hospital and he's broken in empty and lifeless in just sounds horrible. Unlike any time I've ever talked to him in the past and he's telling me at that point he still doesn't. I WANNA live. I don't even know what I'm doing here and I remember just at that moment. My heart opened and I had empathy for the first time in my life for this man and I just told him verbally told him that. Julie I forgive you and I'm sorry for what you're going through now. Two things happen. There wasn't an immediate idiot forgiveness it's all done exuded the forgiveness process. It was process but I realized at that moment that the forgiveness wasn't for my dad even though I had to tell him it was for me I was the one that was stuck in bondage. I was the one that had these sort of change on me. Keeping me down in the clear evidence of that was when I got the call the he was in the hospital. I had no no feeling at all. Yeah there was. I wasn't I wasn't going to jump in the car and go visit my dad and help him love him. Be there for him like most people would like my wife calls me right now and says you know if somebody calls me and tells wasted in the hospital for whatever reason jumping into car right away but that's a terribly wounded person. That which I did with my dad as well. It's like totally get it. It's hard but I finally to the point where I told him that and then it began the process S. of forgiveness understanding Jesus and understanding that if I'm going to call myself a Christian here and walk around and put this on social media media and eventually like write books and things like that then I need to be able to forget. I can't hold grudges. Yeah I can't and this includes the most hurt wounds that I've ever experienced with my dad. I cannot hold a grudge there and so it was a process but at the point where I finally came to forgiving him. You know it was in six months a year before really started to see you know situation with my dad starts come back and focus now the irony of this whole story. Is that from that day that my dad went into the hospital. He hasn't had a drink since. That's that's incredible six and a half years now and his sober and it's it's clear miracle from God now my my dad does not have the sort of relationship that I would hope that he would have with with. Jesus I think he believes in God but he's very still struggles with that world a little bit. Pray for him we do. I tell people if you WANNA do anything for my dad. He sober now but he still needs to prayer prayer because he's not ready to fully some of his life to the Lord but he cannot deny that there is a miracle has taken place Jason. That's one of the sensitive things I want to mention here and highlight for the listener. Who may not have a deep or even a relationship with Jesus? This is exactly the profound nature of God and his character for you to be able to make that turn for you to feel empathy. That in my mind is the spirit of God. These are the things that come from him. Those are the characteristics of God in us as human human beings that have his divine nature so we can over complicate this it has to be a bolt of lightning notes. That moment when you feel. There's someone that you've hated. Hate it all those years. That's the spirit of God Jason. It's been so good. I hope you the listener have a better understanding of that if you've got that bitterness eating being away you get a copy of Jason's book in if you can afford to help focus on the family with the gift of any amount and we'll send it our way of saying. Thank if you cannot afford it in your in a tough spot call us anyway. We'll send it to you trusting that others will take care of that expense. It's so important it from our perspective that you have a tool in your hand to help you get through this area of bitterness. It's key to growing in your relationship with Christ Christ so do it. Don't hold back. Don't be embarrassed we've been at it for forty over forty years we've heard I think we've heard it all you never want to say that but You know what we'll be able to talk with you call our counselors and let us share the love of God with you and our number's eight hundred. The letter A. and the word family or look in the episode notes for further details. Well as we closed today let me just think of listener commented on Apple. PODCASTS has the the user name and interesting one quick fan nine nine nine This person said thank you for this awesome resource. There have been many times while I listen that I think what about and then just as I think that one of the hosts asked that very question that was on my mind. I tell everyone I can about this. podcast thank you are we we so appreciate that kind of feedback and we encourage you to leave a note. share your opinions about what we're doing here through these podcasts. On behalf of gym daily really in the entire team. 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