Life was not always easy with my father when I was growing up. Let’s just say he made many decisions along the way that led to fear, anger, and sadness for my family and me. Unfortunately, I was the only one in the family that would years later truly forgive him for his actions. My mother and sister held onto the resentment and anger they felt all their lives. For my father and I, reconciliation led to several years of a deepening relationship before his passing in 2011.
Forgiveness is not easy and I do not consider myself better or stronger because I was able to forgive and my family members could not. However, I can say that the blessings I received due to forgiveness and a renewed relationship with my father were far better than the animosity experienced by others. I also learned that forgiveness benefited me far more than my father.
As good stewards of time, we must realize that each passing day will never come again. What we do with that time is completely up to us. We can be wise and use it to build bridges, heal wounds, and cultivate love where there is hate. We can also choose to waste time in fear, resentment, and anger. I thank God often for the gift of my dad. However, I thank God more for the gift of time spent with him and the ability to see him not with my human eyes, but with the eyes of Jesus.
“Purity of heart is what enables us to see.” ― Pope Benedict XVI
I’ve always been fond of a scene in the movie City Slickers, a story of three friends who go on a cattle drive adventure to New Mexico to help sort out their mid-life problems. Billy Crystal plays one of those friends (Mitch) and Jack Palance plays the trail boss (Curly). A turning point for Mitch comes in a scene where he and Curly are riding horseback together.
Curly says to Mitch: “You all come up here about the same age, same problems. You spend about fifty weeks a year getting knots in your rope and then you think two weeks up here will untie them for you. But none of you get it.” He continues: “You know what the secret of life is? Mitch replies, “No, what?” Curly then slowly holds up one finger and says, “One thing, just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean [nothing].” Mitch then asks, “What’s the one thing?” And Curly answers, “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.”
“Kierkegaard!” I exclaimed in the theater while my friends and movie goers around looked at me with puzzlement and annoyance. What I was referring to, and what no one else in the vicinity seemed to get, was the Christian philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s book Purity of Heart Is To Will One Thing. It is a sermon based on James 4.8 – “purify your hearts, you of two minds.”
Kierkegaard teaches us that to be pure in heart is to be single-minded and put away all double-mindedness. Do I want to be a Christian or not? Is my faith something that sits alongside other ambitions in life or does it direct all of my intentions? Is all my life directed toward what is good and what God wills for me or do I do that part-time?
Jesus Christ is our one and main thing and keeping focused on Him can be quite a challenge in a world full of distractions, but remember His promise: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”