Show of hands… how many of us have a dysfunctional family to some degree or another? I bet just about everyone would have to agree that no family is perfect. They’re full of imperfect people, all cut from different cloths, have different ideas, come from different backgrounds (for those who have married into families), are in different places in life, and base their decisions on their own personal experiences. To think we should all think the same way is ridiculous. I have so many friends working through personal family issues, as well as personal experiences that are a little closer to home, and honestly, it makes my heart sad to see satan win.
Sadly, in addition to adult relationships, the disagreements or misunderstandings of the adults involved have an adverse effect on the children – nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. and they don’t even have a say. Relationships that could have been, won’t, and what was, will never be again. Grandparents and grandchildren, aunts and uncles with their nieces and nephews, brothers and brothers, sisters and sisters, brothers and sisters, parents and children, in-laws, etc… We need to put aside our petty disagreements and think of the long term effect that our selfishness, grudge holding, prideful, bitterness, and unforgiving hearts are causing. Now, we can all think of our own reasoning to “justify” our behavior in separating, isolation, or refusing to reach out to one another. But honestly, unless there is a threat of danger, those reasons are invalid. Disagree? Make you angry? Step on your toes? In pride, do we think we should wait on the “offender” to make the first move? Perhaps we need to take a look at what the Bible tells us to realign our hearts with His. Expecting someone to walk on eggshells for us, or to behave in such a particular manner because it suits or serves us is ridiculous.
Those of us in Christ, as Christ followers:
REAL forgiveness is not an act or a show. It’s a choice we make. 1 John 2:9 says, “Anyone who professes to be in the light and yet hates his brother is still in darkness.” We are called to love our enemies as well as continue to forgive. Matthew 6:12 says “Forgive us our debts as AS WE ALSO forgive our debtors.” Did you see that? As WE ALSO forgive. It doesn’t say ‘as we would like to forgive,’ ‘as we will forgive one day when the feeling hits us,’ or ‘for those who “deserve” my forgiveness.’ It says AS WE ALSO FORGIVE. It’s not a suggestion. Satan has no better pleasure than to see families separate and torn apart. He loves a prideful, bitter, grudge holding spirit. And he will use it to his fullest advantage. It’s time for Christ following families to put all that aside, extend that olive branch – regardless if the “offender” deserves it or not. We don’t deserve His forgiveness, but being merciful, we are granted that forgiveness through our faith in Jesus Christ. What if He waited until He felt like it or until we deserved it before we were forgiven? That day may never come.
So, cast aside that bitterness, that grudge you’ve been holding on to, and ask Him to help us deal with an unforgiving spirit. Chances are, the offender isn’t the only guilty party. Forgiveness is a choice we make, and we, as Christ followers are commanded to do this. Let’s rid ourselves, with His help, of the notion that our actions are justified, of that bitter, grudge holding spirit.
Col 3:12-13… “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Families – reunite. There are memories to be made, relationships to mend, some to build. Regardless of the past, family is family. Whether you were born into it, were adopted into it, or married into it. It’s your family and it’s your (our) responsibility to be Christ-centered in our relationships – family included… dysfunction, misunderstandings, and disagreements and all.