Jamin smiled with a confidence even he didn’t expect. Before today–about twenty minutes ago in fact–it would have been more confidence than he had, but things had changed. It was her. She’d changed everything, and hadn’t even spoken a word to him. Her eyes still pierced him, even in her absence. The things she had said about him with one fleeting, eternal glance spoke more about who he could be than he’d ever dreamed. From today forward he was going to be someone new. He knew it. It was like he’d met the real him for the first time!
Since the day he’d taken his father into his own hands and thrown him out of the house, Jamin had been untouchable. He knew he’d only been able to do it because of the dizzying effect his father’s drunkenness had caused, but it had still been a defining moment in his life. He’d finally learned his lesson about trust. No one could be trusted; no one deserved anything from him. His role in life became to protect his mother and himself from that man–and anyone else who thought they could taken advantage of what was his.
Despite the turmoil Jamin had known as a boy, growing up under the wrath of an alcoholic father, he’d always been a much clearer reflection of his mother’s gentleness than his father’s volatility. Enough was enough, though, and the boy became a man at the age of fifteen. Now Jamin was seventeen, and had learned more about life than most knew by thirty.
He’d become the main provider for his home the day after he’d showed his father the door. He and his mother had moved to the country, where he now worked for a farmer in exchange for rent and a small wage. The farmer was a childhood friend of his mother and had taken them in as family, but Jamin’s heart was in such turmoil that he was unable to speak to anyone but his mother for over a year. The depression that had plagued him was more than any could bear alone, and he was drowned by it daily. Even still, his mother’s prayers floated up to his ears each night as he drifted to sleep in the small loft of their shanty, and it was those words of love that first sparked a flame of hope in his heart.
Twenty days before Jamin’s seventeenth birthday, he’d worked up the nerve to ask his mother how she lived with such peace and hope. Tears flooded her eyes as she told him about a word he would never forget–forgiveness. It was more than a word. Until then, it was a concept he couldn’t bring himself to consider, but after a year and a half of listening to his mother pray with love for the man who had harmed her indefinably, Jamin knew he would have to change. He admitted to himself that the longer he hated his father the more of his father he saw in himself. That was the last thing he wanted.
Quietly, Jamin’s mother explained to him that forgiveness is bigger than human heartache–that it is stronger than hate. “Forgiveness is love in action,” she’d explained, “and love is the most powerful thing in the universe.”
It hadn’t come to him instantly. The thought of loving his father was more than he could stomach. It wasn’t until he’d come back a week later that she explained to him how love was possible. “Love comes from God,” she continued with a glow in her eyes. “We cannot love on our own. That’s why you don’t understand how I can love your father. What I’ve never told you is that I hated your father for more years than I loved him. I wasn’t able to forgive your father for what he’d done until I realized, like you have, that my hate was destroying me. I knew God when I was a girl, but I left Him when I fell in love with your father. That was my biggest mistake. I made your father more important to me than anyone, and–as I should have expected–he disappointed me more than I knew was possible.”
Jamin’s eyes had clouded over with anger when she’d said that. He would never understand how his father could hurt this woman. He still wanted to see his father pay for what he’d done to them. His absence wasn’t justice enough.
“I know what you’re thinking, son.” His mother drew him in with her eyes. “No one can excuse what he’s done and that’s true. Your father will need to come a long way before he can see himself though God’s eyes, but there is hope even for him, if he should ever choose to accept it. That is between him and his Maker. It’s a choice we must all make, and it’s a choice that is standing right in front of you, too.”
Jamin wasn’t used to his mother speaking this forwardly, but he loved to hear the confidence in her voice.
“I haven’t ever been the mother I wanted to be for you, but I hope you know that I love you more than I can ever express.” Both of their eyes were filled with tears, and Jamin had felt the bitterness inside him begin to melt as he’d felt his mother’s love wash over him.
“I know that,” he’d replied, as a sob escaped his throat, surging up from his heart. “I know.”
They’d stayed there, clinging to each other as the hurt of so many years washed over them, then slowly drifted off into the air.
After a time, his mother finally broke the stillness. She’d stood him up to face her with both hands around his arms. “Jamin, you will never be able to forgive your father until you ask the Lord to forgive you. That is as simple as I can put it.” Her eyes were searching his, as she’d continued. “God is more powerful than either of us can know, and if anyone can forgive your father, it’s Him. You will never know any peace in life until you choose to make things right with God and ask Him to give you the power to forgive your father and start living the life you were made for. I don’t want this life for you, and I know you don’t either. You have too much life to live to be moping around this farm lost in your hurt and pain. If I could take it away I would, but the only way you will know hope, my child, is if you find it in God–plain and simple.”
With that, Jamin’s mother had hugged him and told him she was taking a walk so he could have some time alone with God. The impending confrontation had terrified him.