The Words of the Stewart Family

How do we find and give forgiveness?

James Stewart
December 26, 2008

I am not sure what I did to deserve it or why it happened the way it did. From the age of one year old I was beaten and disliked intensely by my father. He was a tall, stern man who was prone to terrible rages and anyone who was in the way got the full blast of temper. It did not matter if you were one year old or you were an adult. When the storm came it covered everyone.

If I look back I can remember a few day when I did not have to live in fear of whatever mood my father was in, but they were very few an far between. Most days I would keep out of the way as best I could and trained myself from an early age not to show any emotion at all. Emotion could trigger a terrible rage or beating. Rage was not the only thing we had to deal with, I remember going without food for three days. I could not eat something that was served for dinner, and it was only after three hours I was allowed to leave the table. The next morning the same plate was on the table from the night before. The same plate was on the table for three day until I managed to swallow the food. I was so hungry I could have eaten anything.

Each and every day I was told how stupid I was, how I would never amount to anything, I was a looser and would never be anything else. It did not matter that I managed to get in to the best school in the country. I was always at the top of my class and a straight A student, nothing was ever good enough.

When I was 16 another beating came, but this time I stood and took it. I looked him in the face and refused to cry or defend myself. I did this for every time from that day, I took the beatings and looked him in the eye -- no emotion, no tears and no pleadings. It made things worse, but I needed and wanted my dignity and this was the only way I felt I can find it. As soon as I could I got out of the house. I was lucky to get a place at University and had enough money and a job to help me support myself. I sneaked out of the house one night vowing I would never return. I didn’t see my family again for 4 years. I found God, Christ and real parents.

One day I made my peace with my Father. I was living in America by this time and was getting married and wanted to let them know. I still did not get the chance to see much of my family until I was in my 30’s. I came home to attend my brother’s wedding and I was to stay at the house; every thing went well for a day or so.

One morning I woke and came down to the den, the whole family was sitting there. My father came into the room. Looked at me and asked if I had stolen some food from his fridge. My heart dropped, I thought, here we go again. I stood up and waited for the onslaught. I was 33 years old, married and just wanted to get out of there with the least possible amount bad feeling. Before I could say anything, he pulled his fist back and punched me so hard I went flying and hit the wall. There was silence in the room. I picked myself up and stood in-front of him again. The same thing happened, another punch and then another and another. Then he lost it, I was kicked and beaten, cursed and told to leave and never come back. I was covered with blood and in pain, but never retaliated. I took what he wanted to do.

I did not want to hurt him, I wanted to turn the other cheek and forgive him, but that was not easy to do. This man had made my life a living hell and here I was 33 years old and still had to deal with this. Over 30 years of resentment bubbled up inside me and as I left the house I repeated my vow never to have anything to do with my father again. I was determined to never see him again.

I had to spend some time in London on business for a few weeks after I left the house. My mother called me and asked me to make peace with my father, I refused. My mother called day after day. She asked me to come home and ask my father for his forgiveness. I was not asked to forgive him, I was asked to ask him for his forgiveness. I could not understand why I was asked to do this. I never did a thing to him. I was the one who was beaten all my life.

One day my mother was in tears on the phone, she asked the same thing. “Come home and ask your father to forgive you”. In my frustration I asked why. The reply came, “Because Jesus asked us to love our enemy and forgive. Jesus forgave on the cross”. This was like a knife to my heart. Did I truly believe in God and could I be like Jesus and forgive the hurt and pain? I decided to go home, but commit to nothing.

My wife and I traveled from London and arrived in my hometown. My father was in hospital for a minor skin operation so we went with my mother to see him. As we I approached his bed, I saw hatred and loathing in his face. I was still filled with hurt, fear and hatred. Somehow in that moment grace filled me and came down on me. I walked over to the bed, smiled at him and told him I was sorry for all the hurt and disappointment and all the pain I had caused him. Tears flowed down my face as I asked him to forgive me. A miracle happened in that moment, my father reached out to me and put his hand on my head and asked me for my forgiveness. It was as if he were blessing me with all his heart and all the years of pain melted away. In that moment, I loved my father for the first time and could feel the grace of forgiveness for him and me in the depth of my heart.

The next day I left for Eastern Europe. I was there for 2 months. Communication was difficult and I was not able to reach my family readily. On the day I landed in the airport on my return. I went to the first phone I could find and called my family home. I got my mother and started to tell her what I was doing and asked how my father was. She told me he had passed away a few days after I spoke with him from a stroke. It was peaceful and short.

I am truly grateful to God, Jesus and True Parents for teaching us the way to live and forgive. If I had not been able to ask for and forgive my Father, the resentment I had would have built up until it became a cancer in my heart and would have affected all my relationships. We all have things we need forgiveness for and we all have things in our lives we need to forgive. Don’t wait until it is too late. As Jesus hung on the cross we were forgiven. As we go through our lives, let us ask for and find the same forgiveness. I believe for me this lesson was learned accidentally but I did learn my lesson. When we can learn to live with this kind of heart and love our enemies as Jesus love his enemies - The world will be a place where we can truly live as one family

God Bless you and your family,

James Stewart 

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