I have been dealing with on-going, heart-breaking betrayal by my father for about a year. Each revelation is worse than the last. It sometimes seems like more than I can handle. And most of the time, I don't want to forgive. I want to pray down vengeance and pain on him so he'll hurt as much as he's hurt.
This winter, we experienced a wound that, unfortunately, was expected. Because we expected the offense, it hurts more. Our hope that this family member would rise above our expectations only made the wound hurt more.
And it really stinks that it's family that is causing pain. But it came to a head this week. I lashed out about nothing and in the course of that scream-a-thon admitted how hurt I am. And so I've wrestled with the idea of forgiving, because the anger and bitterness will only hurt me, not them.
Yesterday in church, the pastor talked about forgiveness. He started with the Lord's Prayer (and the following verses in Matthew 6:14 & 15)
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.One of the examples he gave was from the story of Jesus washing the disciples' feet in John 13. He said that Christians have all been cleansed from our sin. We don't need to wash our whole bodies. But the every day accidental (or maybe intentional) sins of commission or omission need to be washed away--like washing the disciples feet rather than their whole bodies.
So it seems apparent that I need to forgive these family members. But what does that really look like?
- Do I have to stop being mad? Do I have to stop being hurt? Do I have to trust them? Or want to be nice to them or be friends with them?
- And how do I do this? Little by little? Just stop being mad? Can't I forgive without rebuilding relationship?
Because right now, I don't want to have any sort of relationship with my father. I don't want to see him; I don't want to talk to him.
But I do want to stop letting his crap affect me.