We believe that every family begins or ought to begin with love. Love attracts two adults to each other and impels them to vow to be with each other till death. In marriage the love between the man and the woman is fused into their offsprings. The offsprings grow up experiencing this love and sharing with one another. Despite this love the family members still experience strife. At times the love becomes sour and there is the need to restore its place in hearts of those affected. We may have experienced the severing of love between our loved ones, brothers, sisters, cousins, parents. There are many things that can lead to quarrels in the family, lack of communication, jealousy, pride (especially not being able to apologize for wrong done), obstinacy, unwilling to perform ones role in the family, etc. When these occur it does not mean that the perpetrator no longer loves the victim but it sure signifies that help is needed.
First of all we need to heal ourselves of the hurt done. Forgiveness becomes necessary here. Let us borrow the lessons from the lives of the sons of Jacob. There was strife in the family because Jacob favoured Joseph more than the rest of his children. Joseph made it worse by relating to them his dreams. The brothers of Joseph grew jealous and decided to do away with him. Even when he pleaded they refused to listen. In Chapter 42 of the book of Genesis they encountered Joseph who concealed his identity and made them pass through some tests. He did this in order to find out if they had changed. This is a sign that he had forgiven them even when he knew he was not sure they have repented from the evil they meted on him. If he had not forgiven them he would have dealt with them before asking questions. Forgiveness naturally brings reconciliation as its companion. Joseph later reconciled with the entire family and joy was restored in the family.
It is extremely hurtful when family members offend in some particulars ways that we never expected. For us to be healed of the pains we have suffered we must forgive. We all know it is more painful to treasure the hurt. Of what use it is to store pain? We must learn to ease ourselves of pain. The pain of the actual incident is hurtful enough. Why must we remind ourselves of it all the time? There are two ways to react to events in our life; revenge or forgive. And I think the latter is better. What benefit is there in revenge, except satisfying our ego. The Buddhists believe that a person who keeps anger in the heart is like one who drinks poison and expects the other person to die. Forgiveness goes a long way to heal both the perpetrator of the act and the victim.
Sometimes we see people who say, “I have forgiven you but stay on your own.” Is it possible to forgive and to stay away from the offender? From the Christian perspective it may not be possible. Forgiveness naturally demands reconciliation. If distance has kept both parties apart, that can be understood but if they as family members see themselves everyday and keep to themselves yet claim to have forgiven each other. Then we can conclude that it is only drama. There was no truth in their act of forgiveness.
Many people talk about “forgiving and forgetting.” It may not be possible for some people who have very active memories especially when you are seeing the offender everyday in the house. It may not totally be your fault when you remember evil acts done against you. God gave us memory as a gift. It’s like the computer. You cannot blame the harddisk for storing information. It can only store received data. However, as human beings and not computers we can distract ourselves from remembering these negative incidents in our lives. Whenever they come to mind let us remind ourselves often that we have forgiven and that God has taken control of it all.
While the victim tries to forgive, it is very necessary the offender apologizes and express it appropriately. An offense is sin and sin is a debt owed to God and to the victim. We cannot pay back the debt we owe due to some grievous offenses. Thus as much as we can we should show gratitude to the one who has the courage to forgive. Even when they suffer the difficulty to forgive, let us give some patience and if possible distance for some healing take time.
We pray the Lord to heal us of every pain we have suffered and grant us the grace and courage to forgive. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.