My father was a successful businessman, until he gambled all his earnings away, embezzled company funds and landed himself in jail.

He worked round the clock to pay off his debts after his release, while still gambling with my mother’s savings in his free time.

Because of all this, my father was absent for most of my childhood.

Even throughout his secondary school years, things at home were still very rough for Eze (middle) and his family. All photos courtesy of Eze Seah.

Even when he re-appeared in my life, he was constantly angry. There was no peace and quiet in the house as my parents always argued.

He once tore my Chinese homework and demanded that I redo everything because my handwriting was not up to his standard.

I was only nine years old, but that left a lasting impression on me. 

It was a tiring, toxic and tumultuous part of my life.

In secondary school, after I repeatedly asked my parents for a new computer, he used a hammer to destroy my old laptop.

He claimed that he destroyed it so he could buy me a new one, but this only gave him an excuse for him to gamble again.

It was a tiring, toxic and tumultuous part of my life. I hated my father for bringing pain and poverty to the family.

Back then, I wanted nothing more than to finish school quickly, get a high-paying job and move out of the house.

So I started looking for ways to get money. Money seemed to be my only way out.

Taking small steps

As a teen, I was attending church, and had the opportunity to serve and go for many camps and mission trips. 

I wanted to follow God wholeheartedly, but whenever I prayed, I felt God gently urging me to forgive my father first.

Sermons in church and a book, Total Forgiveness by R. T. Kendall, really challenged me and spoke to my heart too.

I found that the Bible said following God meant obeying everything He said (John 14:15), including forgiveness (Matthew 5:23-24).

Eze and his mum during a church camp.

I made up my mind to forgive my father, but practising it was hard. 

I am thankful that God knew, and He opened my eyes to see that my father actually cared for me.

For instance, when I fell sick with a fever, my father cooked for me and did many more things to show his care.

All these made it easier to forgive my dad, one step at a time.

Putting my hope in money

After my O-Levels, I signed on with the army because of the promise of a stable income and a sign-on bonus of $10,000.

$10K!! I dreamt of all the possibilities that amount could give me.

A new computer, a camera for mission trips, donating money to the church and even blessing my friends who were worse off than I was.

This sum of money was definitely going to change my life.

When my father heard about the sudden windfall, he asked to borrow $8,000.

He gave a speech on how much more “useful” the money could be if he had it and promised to return it quickly. Thinking it would come back, I handed him the money.

That night, my father lost every single cent at the casino.

After listening to all the excuses, all I said was: “It’s okay, I forgive you.”

There was no anger — partly because I had gotten tired of feeling angry all these years, partly because I knew anger wasn’t going to make things better.

Had it not been for the sermons and the book I read, I would have inflicted much damage with my rash words and resentment. But I chose to forgive.

Even then, I cried bitterly in the bathroom later, not because I hated my father, but because it truly hurt to have all my dreams go up in smoke.

Money had become my god, but it had let me down so painfully.

Looking back, it was really my fault for lending him the money.

I had been so fixated on how money could rescue me, I thought that my father could get more for me through gambling.

Money had become my god, but it had let me down so painfully.

My mental health suffered

As a result, I spiralled into depression over the next three years. 

I started skipping class. I also stopped attending church after a complicated situation arose in ministry.

To distract myself, I threw myself into dance, the only remaining thing that I was good at.

I shirked my academic responsibilities and ended up having to retake the many modules I failed, which did not help.

My scholarship with the army was revoked. I was even on the brink of getting kicked out of polytechnic.

It was in such dire times that God shone through.

Eze (third from left) and his family while attending a dance performance.

By His great mercy, I passed my final exams. Feeling that God had not forgotten me, I suddenly found the hope to keep hanging on.

During the pandemic, I also decided to google for the meaning of life, and it led me to the book of Ecclesiastes. 

“Meaningless, meaningless!” said the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

I saw that even though the Teacher had a lot of worldly possessions, he was not happy at all.

In that instant, I came to a sudden realisation: I didn’t have happiness because God was not at the centre of my life.

I had been wrongly putting my hope in money, and letting greed rule me.

New beginnings 

That was a turning point in my life, and I resolved to have God at the centre of my life again.

I reconnected with old friends and went back to church after COVID-19 measures relaxed in 2020.

Journeying with Jesus anew has made me see that He is the greatest security in life.

God gives my life true meaning, and He is the only One who can satisfy me.

I finally understand the command to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:36-40).

A family portrait taken right before Eze (third from left) started his Basic Military Training (BMT).

How is my relationship with my father now?

Well, it’s not the best, but it’s not the worst either. It’s honestly okay.

I’m no longer afraid of my father, like I once was. I can talk, laugh and joke around with him. I can even share my problems with him.

As my relationship with my Heavenly Father improved, I also realised how me and my father have grown closer.

Seeing how everything had impacted the family, my father made it a point to be there for me the best he could.

When I had late-night CCA trainings, he fetched me to and from school. When I recently enlisted, he also fetched me to and from my army camp.

We started to hold conversations with respect for each other, and I began to find out more about his life.

We bonded over common things like signing on with the army at a young age and our interest in business. He also gave me lots of life and love advice too!

All these helped in my recovery from depression, which no longer affects me now.

Nothing is impossible

If you’re also struggling to love and honour your parents, don’t lose hope.

God makes all things possible, and He is the God of reconciliation too.

Before solving your relationship with your parents, I encourage you to work on your relationship with our Heavenly Father first. 

Have you been made right with God? Have you surrendered your life fully to Jesus? Are you yielding and submitting to the Holy Spirit’s guidance? 

If the answer to all these questions is “yes”, then this is the million-dollar question: Do you love God enough to obey Him wholeheartedly?

Obeying and honouring our parents is a command from Him (Romans 13:1-5, Exodus 20:12). And the extent of our love is evidenced by the extent of our obedience (John 14:15).

Our love for our parents should not depend on their worthiness, but on God’s holiness.

We need to choose forgiveness daily, and die to our fleshly desires of bearing grudges.

Our love for our parents should not depend on their worthiness, but on God’s holiness.

We have to accept that our parents aren’t perfect. More importantly, the way they have parented us isn’t reflective of God’s steadfast love and care for us. 

It’s honestly been a tough journey with my dad. Yet I know it’s not over yet.

Regardless, I am determined to keep on loving, forgiving and honouring my earthly father, just as I love and honour my Heavenly Father.

Read more stories of hope and reconciliation this Father’s Day!

  1. How is your relationship with our Heavenly Father?
  2. Do your actions at home demonstrate that you love God? If not, what will you do differently?
  3. What does honouring your father and mother look like to you?
  4. Who is someone you can walk with on this journey of forgiving your parents?