121Stories - Freedom through Forgiveness

A woman shares her real-life story of forgiveness.

Chansi Shope
Jun 14, 2020    10m
In this message, a woman recounts her difficult relationship with her father. She shares her real-life story of forgiveness, and how it has freed her to live without bitterness, regret, frustration, or sadness. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Chansi Shope: 00:04 I'm Chansi, I'm married to Chris, we've attended here at 121 since 2009. We are the parents of two amazing children, Crimson and Cas, Chris is an awesome dad. I laughed with him when we first started dating, I said, I never thought I would get married or have children, but seeing you just as a human makes me want to see you as a dad because you're such an awesome human and you're so selfless.

Chansi Shope: 00:32 So in having children, it's been really amazing to see him teach them that in a way that I didn't learn things because I didn't really have a dad around. My mom and my dad separated when I was two, and my father already had a new girlfriend, they had already moved in together. My mom didn't have a new boyfriend yet, but it was very soon that she found someone. And so I just went back and forth between the two homes.

Chansi Shope: 01:01 Things were really hard with my dad. He had always been a user, my mom was also a user, so there was this uncertainty in my life. I never really knew who I was going to be talking to, if my mom was going to be the loving, caring mom, or if my dad was gonna be the loving caring dad, or flying off the handle, or taking me over to somebody's house and dropping me off and leaving me there. And then once my father got heavy into drugs, heavier than he already was, and left my stepmom for another woman, I didn't really see him much at all anymore. And soon after that, I would say maybe two years after that, he went to prison and was in and out of prison, all of my life.

Chansi Shope: 01:49 So fast forward to senior year, my father gets out of prison, and he wants to begin a relationship with me. And my little brother Taylor, who has now passed away, he had never met him. So we drive down to Austin together and go to see him, and my father tells him all the things that he would always tell everybody because he was a really good manipulator. And I think when he was saying those things, he was genuine, but they never seem to pan out. So there were a lot of promises made to him, to my little brother, a lot of promises made to me about how he wanted to change, and really wanted to be part of our lives. And then we went back home, and it was the same thing over again. He was out of prison for about a year, I saw him a couple of times and then he was right back in.

Chansi Shope: 02:49 So there was a lot more pain that was rehashed. It was like, I had that hope of, okay, maybe he's going to do the right thing this time, maybe I can trust him. Time goes on, and I end up blocking all communication. I said, I can't do it, but it was hard because I didn't want to close myself off from him, I wanted a relationship with him, but I just didn't know how to navigate it. And I'm sure that was because I knew it was easier just to avoid it. Like if I could just avoid it, I'm going to be fine, I don't have to approach it. He doesn't even exist to me right now, and then it doesn't hurt because I'm not thinking about it.

Chansi Shope: 03:30 And I can't remember what sermon series it was, but it was a fantastic sermon series that Ross did. And he asked us to write down on a Post-It Note someone that we needed to forgive, and then we put it on, I think it was a cross that had nails already on it, and you just kind of slid your Post-It Note on it. And so that was the beginning of me really doing some soul searching on forgiving my father. I think that I was so scared of letting him in, that I thought it would even be too big for Christ.

Chansi Shope: 04:11 And through prayer and I mean, getting into some stuff that I didn't want to think about, and being vulnerable with Chris about some things that were really hard for me. How do I allow myself to be vulnerable and give grace to this man who has not played the role of father?

Chansi Shope: 04:38 I think the biggest takeaway is that I learned that I would have never been able to forgive without the love of Christ, and the grace of Christ. And having a father that I never had through Christ, and understanding that through my Heavenly Father, through his love and grace and forgiveness for all the things that I don't even want to think about. How could I not forgive my own father for things that I'm sure he didn't want to think about, and struggled with every single day, knowing that I wouldn't allow him in my life.

Chansi Shope: 05:26 I remember Father's Day 2018, Ross did a sermon, of course. And after the sermon, I really felt led to have a conversation. Summer that same year I was at my step mom's house, so Taylor that I talked about earlier, my little brother he passed away. But we are still very close to my stepmom and we were talking the next day and she said, oh, let me show you something I was talking about yesterday. I think she was gonna look up maybe something about Granbury we lived, and maybe a shop or something that was there that my father used to be a part of. And so she looked it up, and while she was looking, she got real quiet. And I was like, what, what's going on? Why are you so quiet? And she said, your dad's dead. And I said, what are you talking about? And she's like, I just looked up his name, and here's his obituary.

Chansi Shope: 06:24 And so I of course was taken aback, it was so sad for him that he never got to hear the words come out of my mouth, that I never really got to tell him that I was sorry. And it wasn't for me, it was for him. I felt like he deserved to not have to live in that pain the whole time he was alive, not knowing that I wasn't angry with him anymore, that I didn't hate him. I just want it to be known that there's a lot of regret in my story, a lot of time spent not doing the forgiveness piece of life with my father because I think I was really selfish in a lot of ways in not forgiving him earlier. It's almost like I wanted to pay him back the pain that he gave me, because I mean the 35 years he wasn't in my life were really hard. Especially 18 of those, they were super hard. And I just, I wanted a dad who I don't know, cooked on the grill, and played catch with me, and loved me unconditionally. I wanted a dad who didn't drop me off when I was five at a friend's house on Christmas Eve because he had better plans.

Chansi Shope: 08:02 And so I think there was so much bitterness, that I wanted him to feel it. And I'm so ashamed of that now, I'm so ashamed that I would want to hurt somebody because they hurt me. And so in working through that process, and being able to forgive him, I feel like it changed me too in a good way that I wasn't carrying around this bitterness and anger towards someone who really was a weak man with addiction. Who I think, I think he wanted better, I think he wanted to be a good dad, I think he wanted to love me. And my mom's always said, he loves you more than you'll ever know. And that's true because I never really will know how much he loves me, or did love me because I didn't give him the opportunity to show it.

Chansi Shope: 09:03 And so I'm so thankful that I was able to come to a place in my own heart of forgiving him. And my father has said that he is a Christ-follower. In my younger years, I would have called that jailhouse religion and said that that's not true and that he was just trying to find something to do when he was in prison. But now I want to believe that that's true and that one day I'll be able to tell him face to face that I forgive him because I didn't get to do that. My forgiveness, and the freedom that I've gotten from that forgiveness, is way bigger than any regret, or frustration, or sadness that I felt throughout the process of forgiving or throughout my life of being upset about my father or being lost without my father. It was a really great process for me to go through the hurt so that I could find all the beauty.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051