Saturday, 24 February 2018

C Columns

What's in a Name? The best gift: freedom in forgiveness

By Daniel Bobinski


The holidays are upon us. It’s that time of year when families and friends tend to get together to share meals and exchange gifts. And, in addition to bringing gifts to these gatherings, many of us also bring baggage. Let’s face it. The people we love the most cansometimes be the people who have hurt us the most. We all have a sin nature, and with that comes a propensity to say and do things that aren’t always kind — even to people we love.


If you were raised in a loving and nurturing home, consider yourself blessed. If every friend you’ve ever had has been only kind to you, then that would be a wonderful blessing, as well. But not everybody has that. And, I can’t think of very many people who do.


Perhaps you’ve heard it said that when you don’t forgive somebody, it affects you a lot more than it affects them. I’m here to tell you there’s a lot of truth in that statement.


My mother passed on nearly 10 years ago. Obviously, she loved me, but she didn’t always know how to show it. I doubt she truly understood me, and she often referred to me as stupid. Later in her life she became very controlling and even vengeful. Sadly, I don’t think she had a relationship with Jesus. I tried talking with her after I got saved, but she wanted no part of it. She would say things to try to control me, often following it up with phrases like, “It’s in the Bible,” when obviously it wasn’t.


I’m not saying this to air my family’s laundry, I just want to set the stage and say that after decades of increasing verbal and emotional abuse that continued after all the physical abuse she dished out during my childhood, I had to draw a boundary and not talkwith her anymore.


And so, feeling safer after I set that boundary, I went on living my Christian life and seeking after God.


But there was a problem. Every time someone called me “Daniel,” I would instantly correct them and say, “My name is Dan.” In fact, it got to the point where I would be almost rude about it. I really didn’t like the name Daniel, but all my official documents, such as airline tickets and mortgage papers, required it. Arrgh.


I remember getting into a small verbal tug-of-war with a mortgage lender because I wouldn’t sign their paperwork with, “Daniel Bobinski.” And then there was the time I was opening a bank account and the branch manager was reading my name out loud off my driver’s license. Even I was surprised at how high her eyebrows went up after I gritted my teeth and said, “My name is Dan.” And, the room became even more tense after she asked what my mother’s maiden name was.


Not long after that I realized the source of my frustration with hearing my real name. Every time my mother was upset with me, she would grit her teeth and in a demeaning voice, she’d say, “Daniel!”


That awareness rolled through my head for a few years, but the emotional pain was stilltoo deep to deal with it. I didn’t feel safe letting down my protective boundary.


Then something strange happened. Within a week’s time, two good friends commentedindependently about how angry I got whenever the subject of my mother came up. These friends didn’t know each other, but both of them told me the exact same thing: “I think you need to forgive your mother.”


After hearing this suggestion twice in one week — and realizing it was probably coming from God — I knew there was truth in their words. The thing is, I didn’t want to forgive my mother. She had hurt me a lot. But I had been carrying that pain around for decades, and it wasn’t going away. I decided my friends were right.


During an evening later that week, I got down on my knees in front of the fireplace in my home. I didn’t know where to start, so I just asked God to help me forgive her. I askedGod to help me pray — to search my heart and cleanse it of all unforgiveness toward my mother.


It was a long evening. I think I spent three hours on that rug, crying and pouring my heart out to God, asking for a change of heart.


Afterwards there were no fluttering angels or lights from heaven. I just felt as if I had prayed enough and that I didn’t have anything more to say or ask for. I went to bed, but nothing felt different.


That is, until two days later. I forget where I was or what I was doing, but somebody called me “Daniel,” and I noticed that I didn’t flinch. I didn’t grit my teeth. I didn’t correct anybody. Then, the next day, somebody else called me Daniel, and it actually sounded good.


Before long, I was introducing myself to people as Daniel, and correcting them (politely) if they called me “Dan.”


Although I never reconnected with my mother (she died shortly after I forgave her), I’m confident that a cleansing took place in the spiritual realm.


I’ve shared this story several times, and people tell me it’s a powerful testimony about how freeing forgiveness can be. And so, I thought that by sharing it here on these pages during the holidays, it might give readers throughout the Treasure Valley a glimmer of hope and a gentle nudge. I’m guessing there’s someone you’ll see this holiday season thathas caused pain in your past. Pain that you might have quietly stashed away, or pain that might be gnawing at you on the inside.


I’m here to say there’s freedom in forgiveness. Who knows? It might be the best gift that you give — and receive — this holiday season.


Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed., runs two businesses. One helps teams and individuals learn how to use Emotional Intelligence. The other helps companies improve their training programs. He’s also a homeschooling dad, a best-selling author, and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. Reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (208) 375-7606.


Christian Living Magazine


Phone: 208-703-7860