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A Season of Forgiveness

A year ago my father died. I was at his bedside for that last terrible week when, one by one, his bodily systems began to sign off and shut down. Before that, I was his caretaker, helping him transition from assisted living, to hospital, to nursing home. It battered my spirit and I wrote poetr…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

A year ago my father died. I was at his bedside for that last terrible week when, one by one, his bodily systems began to sign off and shut down.

Before that, I was his caretaker, helping him transition from assisted living, to hospital, to nursing home. It battered my spirit and I wrote poetry to cope.

My mom was the love of his life for 60 years. They met in Yosemite and lived a life of adventure and service.

But it wasn’t easy and we struggled mightily along the way. We lost each other as a family and had to find our way back to each other through forgiveness. My dad, the army colonel and doctor, spoke a different language of the heart than the rest of us did.

I watched my mom say goodbye to my dad. She held his hand, kissed him, and told him she’d see him in heaven. It was tender and holy and hard. 

It was a righteous ending that never would have been possible without her understanding and practicing the art of forgiveness.

As a man who daily had to make life-saving decisions, my dad sometimes struggled with his bedside manner. But I’m so glad that my mom taught me how to forgive and modeled it all her life.

I’ve been hurt and I’ve hurt others. Learning how to give and receive forgiveness has been so important to navigating the seasons of life like the one we’re in now.

This time of national isolation may be a productive one if we’ll allow it to teach us the things we were too busy to see. Things like our need for forgiveness and connection.

Last Saturday, sensing that we were headed for lockdown here in Georgia, I visited my mom at her retirement center. I didn’t hug her. We sat maybe eight feet apart on park benches. “How are you doing, mom?” I asked.

“I’m wonderful, honey. They take care of us here.”

“Do you want me to get you a TV, mom?”

“No, I’m OK, I don’t want a TV, I’d rather focus on things that matter.”

That’s my mom. Focusing on prayer and relationships – the things that matter. She’s always wearing a smile and sporting a great attitude. I’m pretty sure it’s because she mastered the art of forgiveness – she travels light.

Somehow, I learned that from her. I remember in the darkest period of my life when God showed me I needed to forgive the person who had betrayed me. And he showed me that I needed to do it right away.

It was so hard! But on the other side, I was free and able to travel light.

I’ve tried to make grace and forgiveness my practice ever since. It’s been a gift. Life is too difficult to lug around the baggage of broken relationships.

What if we were all to make this season of quiet – a time when we are fasting relationships – also a season of forgiveness? What if we were to ask God to show us those people we need to forgive or to ask forgiveness from?

We live in such a contentious society. Our politics poison our spirits. So many of our conversations are toxic and bleed poisons into our spirits. So many of us need the connection that forgiveness could bring.

What if we were to repent of that broken way of life and find comfort in a season of forgiveness? Yes, it’s a time of national sickness, but some of the healing we need is available if we’ll search our hearts and repent to those we’ve hurt.

Comments (27)

  • Thanks for these words. Yep, your mom is always smiling. I can’t remember your dad was part of the mission commission at Grace brethren church Long Beach and he sent me off to Brazil. And now many years later here we are in Gainesville Georgia working for him. Thank you Asa and thank you Jeanne.

  • Thanks Seth for this story/lesson. I lost my father when I was in my early twenties; he was 54. The lessons I learned from him during those short years help guide me today – when I let then.

    This is certainly an unprecedented time for all of us. Through all of the fear and uncertainty there is still an opportunity God has given us. Forgiveness, resolving long standing immediate family issues, growth, and so many more things are there waiting to be embraced. Here is hoping none of us miss the opportunities we have been given during this season.

    I am praying for you, the team around the world and the racers who have returned.

  • This is beautiful and apt. I have leaned I to God and asked for direction on how to best serve during this time. My vocational calling (working for SWA…I’m convinced of this…) is my ministry. During my interview I stated that I wish to be a broker of joy in the sky’s. I haven’t wavered from this and believe that absolutely God shaped my experiences for me to serve for such a time as this. Blessings my friend. I will be sharing segments of your post as an encouragement to those I work with and serve.

  • Thank you for this reminder. This quiet period of the unknown has made me remind myself to rest in God’s promises but to also love on His people, bear with them and treat them all as special like His commandment to us.

  • Seth – Your mother shows so much wisdom. I’m witnessing many elders in my life turning to television, and being steered by our divisive media. Intelligent people I’ve highly respected in my life turn angry, anxious, fearful, and very vocal on what I see as an extreme view on many issues. Take notice “elders”….as we become “elderly” we have a choice to “focus on what matters” or slide into fear and anger.

  • Thanks Seth. I think this is a key to over coming this crisis. It seems to me that the tendency to value others based on their personal affect and outward attitude is an outcome of prosperity. Crisis often forces us to ignore those in lieu of action. Thanks for yet another blog prompt:-)

  • It’s been amazing watching you walk this journey for the past 10 years. Thanks for letting your life be an open book so we can learn alongside you!

    • Glad to know it was worth watching! You do well at humility, Bill. If there’s anything to glean from me, you do it well.

  • I like that, Andy. I may be an elder now, but that doesn’t mean that I should act elderly! Let’s be young in spirit. Let’s press in to all that courage asks of us.

  • Yes, Mitch – what an opportunity we have to use this down time to reach out while people are softer and more vulnerable to seek healing.

  • Thanks for this great perspective Seth. I love the ways you have loved your mom and dad, and thank you for sharing the behind the scenes glimpses for us to see the redemptive work of Jesus in the midst. I truly appreciated the opportunity to meet your mom a few weeks ago. She’s a priceless gem!

  • Seth,
    Your mom spent a number of years discipling me when I was in college. She was always optimistic, caring, loving, and nurturing. She taught me so much about Christ and the importance of staying in the Word. I can go on and on, but I loved your family. I only knew the younger “Barnes kids” but would look at your wedding photos in the living room and feel like I knew all of you. Thank you for the beautiful photo of your mom! The pup reminds me of Pedro too! He would jump in my arms when I arrived at the front door. I loved him too! Blessings to you and your family! I’m grateful for your heart’s healing journey. Regina Copeland, Long Beach, CA

  • This is beautiful. Really, really hard, but ultimately so beautiful! Hope you’re doing well, Seth. Stay safe, stay healthy.

  • Dusty, I’m so thankful for who you are and the way you’ve led. I loved your word of humility and exhortation on the FB group last year. Hope you are well. The future is bright.

  • Wow – so good to hear from you, Regina! This is wonderful! I will share this with my mom. I know she’ll be encouraged. She’d love to hear your voice. She is at Smoky Springs in Gainesville. 844-487-2251

  • Seth, this is so good. I love it. I’ve been thinking about that during this time as well. In particular, I’ve been thinking about how this is a cool time to merge generational gaps

  • Hi Seth. This is probably one of the most important lessons that we need to learn. It’s also one of the hardest to actually do. It’s a matter of obedience that is impossible in many situations, but all things are possible with God. I’m so grateful that God works in us and helps us do these impossible things that bring healing and joy to our heart. We’re on lock down in Brazoria county where we live and the Mexican boarder is closed so Gail and I have a lot of extra time to read and pray. I’m reading an incredible book called Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray. It is a must read. Take care Seth. God bless you with His Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation. Richard

  • “No, I’m OK, I don’t want a TV, I’d rather focus on things that matter.” She’s fierce and I love it.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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