Today, December 29th, is my biological father’s birthday. He would have been 77. My father, Tom Olhausen, died in 2007 of emphysema. I haven’t written about him since his death, but I think of him often. Knowing this day was coming, I’ve been thinking about him all month.
My father was a bad man. He was a criminal. He abandoned his children. He was a true narcissist. In a lawsuit he was party to in Miami the presiding judge referred to my father as, “A known miscreant.” For some reason, when I read it, that description of him broke my heart. I am the son of a miscreant.
Over the years we had an on again off again relationship. Sometimes I didn’t know where he was living or even if he was dead or alive. I talked to him about Jesus. He wouldn’t listen. I told him I forgave him. He didn’t think he needed forgiveness. He never once took responsibility for his sins. In the end, he died alone, gasping for every breath, with no one to comfort him, without hope, without the forgiveness of Jesus, with no contact with family or friends, decomposing in his apartment for nearly a month before anyone knew he was dead.
My greatest regret about my relationship with my father is that I gave up on him. At the time in his life when he needed me the most, I abandoned him. He was relentless in his sin. I should have been relentless in responding with forgiveness and love. Instead, I cut him off. Now he is gone and I can never take it back.
The best way to avoid living in regret is to not do the thing that causes that regret in the first place. No matter how hard it is, no matter how awkward or painful fixing it now may be, I promise, the pain of regret is worse and lasts far longer.
How is your relationship with your family, your friends? Who has hurt you? Who have you hurt? Who do you have trouble forgiving? Who do you need to ask forgiveness from? As you approach this new year, resolve to let your forgiveness and repentance be relentless. Love relentlessly. I pray you will never feel the torment of regret that I will endure for the rest of my life.