As this life draws to a close, if we are fortunate enough to either know when we are dying, we will all realize that our circle of friends has diminished greatly and our family has dwindled away. As I reached 45 years this past March I was emotionally bowled over by the realization that my family has shrunken – a LOT. My mother was gone; both sets of grandparents, extended Aunts and Uncles – in fact, a family photo that was taken in 1992 will reflect about 6 people still alive out of 13! I have scores of photos of people who are no longer here. It is up to those of us left behind to make a decision as to how lonely our own death will be.
My mother was extremely blessed and, praise God, she knew it. In fact, on her death bed she said to me, “how is it that I am so incredibly loved by so many people”. What a thrill to my heart that was! Mom KNEW she was loved. How many of us really know how much we are loved? We should all be so lucky to be here on earth and know that beyond a shadow of a doubt!
It has been an incredible week of challenges. Faced with a difficult decision I sought the advice of family and friends. I received encouragement, input, advice, and prayer. So I made the amazingly tough decision to cut off a family member.
I realized immediately that by cutting off this family member I was merely putting the problem to rest. It was not going to be resolved. I had reached my limits of humanity and in order to protect myself, in order to stop allowing this person to attack me; I cut them off. It just happened to be a family member.
I do not abdicate cutting off a family member immediately. Forgiving and forgetting are important tools. Resolving conflict is even more important especially in maintaining the health of the family. It just makes sense to heal after a conflict. But what if its abuse? What if the offender is abusing you emotionally or physically? It is necessary to cut someone off who is harming you physically and emotionally. If you are experiencing physical abuse from a family member I hope that you would seek help. For anyone experiencing physical abuse from a family member I pray that you would contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
I had to do something drastic to protect myself. I chose to write that person off. I wrote what I thought was a loving letter and I told this person that communication between us needs to cease immediately. I also told that person that this act breaks my heart but his words hurt even more.
The goal of cutting off should NOT be just to rid yourself of that person. If that person has redeeming qualities and deep down deserves to be part of your family than the goal of your actions should be to force that person in to a place where they are reflective of their actions, and they seek reconciliation. They apologize for their hurtful ways and promise to fix them. That should be the goal. In my case several key people in my life wrote letters to this person. We flooded his emotions, no doubt. And now I hear that he is repentant. I look forward to hearing it from his own mouth.
In my letter to him it was very important that he knew that I forgive him. Forgiveness and forgetting are not the same and for those who do not forgive simply because they cannot forget are missing the amazing blessings that can come from true forgiveness. Forgiving is an amazing act of love, I think. We don’t forget. Our humanity won’t allow us to forget easily. It was an event(s) that shaped our life. EVERY thing that happens to us is a thread in the fabric of who we are – good or bad. Joy-filled or tragic. It shapes who we are, how we make decisions, the manner in which we approach other people and our work, and it shapes our moral code. Without it we would simply not be the person we are today.
There is a difference between forgetting the transgressions of our brothers and sisters, and letting it go. Use that transgression as an alert or early warning system to your core-being so you can see it coming next time and avoid it all-together; but forgive and you will notice the memory of it, the immediate pain of it, will begin to go away.
I did a Google search for ‘steps to forgiveness” and noticed that there are 12, no 13, no wait – seven..oh 9…three…oh no there are six… well it appears that no one has a simple solution. But I do like the writing of Nicole Lamarre (http://voices.yahoo.com/six-steps-help-forgive-those-hurt-329321.html) I encourage you to pop over there and read it. Here are her six steps in bullet points:
1) Feel the Pain
2) Visualize separating the person from the behavior
3) Rage at the behavior
4) Release the offender and the pain
5) Express love to the offender
6) Express BOLD love to the offender
Please pop over there and read her explanations of each step. I think she’s really on to something.
The Lord’s Prayer spells it out pretty simply for us. We ask God to forgive our transgressions in the same manner we have forgiven those who transgressed against us. It says nothing about forgetting so get that out of your head right now. Work on forgiving and you will witness the amazing power it has!