I resent my father very much because he is the most cruel man that I have ever known. He hurts my mother both physically and psychologically. He is an alcoholic, and he uses hurtful and obscene language. I have hated and resented him all my life for all the things he has done to us, to the extent of wanting to take his life so that this suffering will stop.

My mother is a believer in God, and I have attended church since I was small. I believe that is why I haven’t [tried to kill my father]. I would like for you to counsel me so that I can forgive and get rid of all that I feel in my heart.

Dear Friend,

We are very sad to hear your story. No wonder you feel bitterness and hatred! Those feelings are the natural result of how you have been treated and how you have seen your father treat your mother. In a certain sense, your anger and bitterness have been the only choices that you have found to try and control, or respond to, an uncontrollable situation.

Thank God you have never acted on your impulse to physically harm your father, as that would make your situation worse instead of better. Your desire to hurt your father has been the only way you have been able to think of to take action based on your internal distress. But because you have gone to church, you have undoubtedly studied the Bible and know that the Apostle Paul taught, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath.”(1) Nevertheless, it is very difficult to completely let go of bitterness and leave the punishment for God to carry out Himself.

Because resentment and bitterness are almost completely internal, they cause harm to you from the inside out. Without any acceptable external action to take, the feelings of bitterness cycle over and over in your mind, causing further harm to your emotional state. Holding a grudge can lead to depression and anxiety. It can take the joy out of what should be joyous occasions. And it can even lead to physical symptoms such as high blood pressure.

No one should stay in an environment where they are being physically abused. Your father has the choice of how to behave and whether to hurt people or not, but you and your mother also have the choice to put him out or get away from him. God promises to protect us, but He expects each of us to do what we can to protect ourselves. He never wants any of us to stay in a dangerous situation if we can help it.

Forgiveness is a supernatural act. You must ask God to give you the ability to forgive your father. Do it as an act of your will, every day, many times a day, praying, “Lord, I forgive him and I willingly give up my right to be angry and bitter.” Continue praying that way, and then trust God to deal with your father.

Remember that forgiveness does not excuse what your father has done, nor does it mean that you should let him have the chance to hurt you more. So do whatever it takes to get away from him.

We wish you the best,

1 Ro 12:19a