“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” Song of Solomon 2:4 ESV
In the past when I looked at this flag and my Dad’s picture feelings of anger, resentment, confusion, abandonment, fear, loneliness and most cutting rejection pierced my heart. When I got handed this flag at his funeral the only meaning it had was the reminder of what my father did to me and my mom before I was even born. He left us.
His choice to leave marked me so deep to my core it was unbearable. A flag that was the mark of a soldiers honor to his country was the constant reminder in my heart of the dishonor he had shown for leaving me. Honestly, I hid this flag for the longest time; I couldn’t look at it…until my heart started to forgive him. It was only until recently that I decided to put it out on display after allowing Jesus to heal the broken places of what was supposed to be one of the most foundational and meaningful relationships of my life.
And slowly that forgiveness allowed for Jesus’ freedom to heal the gap in my heart where I so longed for a relationship with my Dad. Forgiveness opened the door for me to see my father as someone flawed, scared and not ready. I accepted that. One final step of forgiveness was necessary though; I knew it wasn’t finished. The thoughts and feelings of abandonment and rejection always lingered around me like best friends at a party.
Recently in a freedom prayer session Jesus showed me the picture of my Dad’s flag that I received at his funeral. I knew that Jesus giving me this picture meant that I had to lay everything down; from the hurt, the rejection, and the indescribable pain lingering in my heart to the anger and hate I had for what he had done so many years ago. Years of agony, pain, and bitterness had developed in place of a relationship for which I had desperately longed. I laid it all down in the flag case with the flag and Jesus replaced it with his redemption through the cross.
Immediately after this, Jesus spoke to me and said “My banner over you is Love.” I caved, it was finally finished. I knew it. I felt the burden of the pain in and around my heart for my Dad lift– a burden that had been there longer than I can remember. I was free.
This flag is no longer the banner that marks my life and the choices that my dad made or didn’t make no longer define who I am. Jesus’ banner is the banner that flies over my life and that banner is LOVE. Even though I wasn’t my dad’s decision I was Jesus’ decision.
So now when I look at that flag and at that man in the picture that honorably served our country, I have nothing but love in my heart for him because I know that banner in that case is Jesus’ banner of love, freedom and redemption for me and him.
Rachel Morris, New City Stories Contributor