Tag Archive for forgiveness

6 Ingredients to Build Family Intimacy

We all yearn for intimate relationship. We long for the kind of intimacy that allows us to stand before another person without fear of rejection, without feeling shameful about our perceived inadequacies, and without hesitation to give ourselves to another person…to be completely known, deeply loved, and unconditionally accepted. We can learn to nurture that type of intimacy only within the family. One of the first lessons we learn from our family is that intimacy takes effort. We all fall short. We behave in ways that interfere with intimacy and the restoration of intimacy takes work. With that in mind, the deep intimacy we desire begins when we accept personal responsibility for our own actions—actions that interfere with intimacy and actions that enhance intimacy. Here are six actions to help you build deeper intimacy in your family.
     ·         Own Your Own Actions. Admit that your behavior either creates or destroys family intimacy. What you say and do will build deeper intimacy with family members or deepen the chasm between family members. With brutal honesty, assess whether your actions and words lead your family toward greater intimacy or push your family to further separation. Take personal responsibility for your behavior and its impact.

·         Acknowledge the Impact of Your Behavior. If your words and actions lead to intimacy, acknowledge the joy you experience in relation to your family. If your words and actions have driven a wedge between family members, confess your wrongs. Humbly admit your fault without making excuses. Express a genuine desire to change your behavior. You might even present a plan to change your behavior and bring intimacy back to your family relationships.

·         Seek Forgiveness. Along with confessing any words or actions that have interfered with intimacy, ask for forgiveness. Ask, don’t demand, plead, or give ultimatums…simply ask. This is different than acknowledging the impact of your behavior. Genuinely seeking forgiveness opens us up, reveals our desire for deeper intimacy, and voluntarily places the future of our relationship in the hands of the person who feels offended. Think about that for a second. In sincerely asking for forgiveness, we become very vulnerable. This step of vulnerability reveals our true desire to see the relationship restored.

·         Live Out the Fruit of Repentance. Our family may doubt the sincerity of our verbal pleas for forgiveness. So, let your actions do the talking; after all, actions speak louder than words. Diligently engage in loving actions that promote intimacy. Reveal your desire for intimacy through acts of service. Speak words that heal wounds and draw family together. 

·         Forgive Graciously. When family members offend you or hurt you in some way (and they will), forgive them! Graciously let go of your desire and your right for justice. Open your heart and mind to remember and recognize the positive character they exhibit in their lives. Allow yourself to observe their effort to say and do things to enhance your relationship. Let go of the offense and let it remain in your history, not in your present.

·         Accept Each Family Member Unconditionally. Receive each family member into your life and heart with the express purpose of showing them kindness. Accept them regardless of mistakes, shortcomings, and irritation. Make sure each family member knows that you love them for who they are, for their uniqueness and their distinct contribution to the family…even in the midst of necessary discipline or momentary anger.
These six actions can enhance intimacy in your family; and, when practiced regularly, they will build a hedge that can protect your family intimacy. One last thing to remember: practice makes perfect so practice…practice…practice.

What A Week!

Ever have one of those weeks in which everything frustrates you? I have…just last week in fact. I was a little frustrated and irritable (alright, my family would say very irritable) all week. It was a busy week with multiple changes and transitions. “Nothing” seemed to go right. “Everything” (and I mean “everything”) frustrated me. “Everything” I did went from “bad to worse.” I just knew that “it would never get any better” and “everything I do always ends in disaster.” I was stressed, short-tempered with my family, and not a lot of fun to be around. I felt disconnected from my family. I realized I needed to make a change to get back on track, to reconnect. But how? Well, here are some actions I found helpful. Maybe you will find them helpful, too.
     ·         Take a break. I know it’s busy. There is never enough time to get everything done. However, if you get caught up in the busy-ness of life you may forget to rest; and, you may disconnect from those things in life that are most important, like family. You will grow increasingly irritated and disconnected. So, take a break. Put your work aside for an evening or a day and relax. Do something fun with your family. Or, just relax at home with a good book.

·         Check Your Thought Life. Think about how you are thinking. Listen to the dialogue in your head. Notice the words in the first paragraph that are in quotes? When you find yourself thinking in terms of “everything,” “always,” or other global absolutes, it’s time to take stock of your thoughts and make the effort to change those thoughts. Consider whether the evidence supports your thoughts (it probably does not). Rewrite your inner dialogue with some more accurate and realistic thinking, thinking that reflects the fact that problems arise and then you deal with them. Change your thinking to acknowledge the support you receive from family and friends. Challenge yourself to reestablish thoughts that keep a mole hill a mole hill rather than letting thoughts that turn a mole hill into a mountain run amuck in your mind.

·         Apologize. You may need to apologize to your family for how you behaved or spoke. Apologize for your irritability. Do not make excuses or blame your family for your mood. Simply apologize for your actions. After apologizing, acknowledge your need for support…which reminds me of the next action.

·         Ask for Help. Life can be difficult and even overwhelming. Turn to your family and ask for help. Explain your feelings and mood to your family. Let them in on your emotional life. They can’t help you if they don’t know what’s going on. So, if there are ways they can help, ask. Then, thank them for helping.
That can help you break out of that mood. I know it helps me. But, what if you are a family member of the person having a rough day? Family members can help by continuing to act in love. Sometimes it is hard to love the person who snaps at you in their irritability or mutters in frustration. But, the love of family can help cheer an irritable person up. Love with your words and actions. Here are some ways to show your love to the irritable family member.
     ·         Be Patient. I know it can be difficult, but patiently bear with their bad mood. Of course, you can set boundaries and limits that fit within your family values but love “bears all things.” A person may need some space in order to get past their frustration. Family may help by patiently allowing for that space.

·         Be available. Remaining available includes offering a listening ear, giving a hug, rubbing a back, or sitting quietly in the same room… anything that shows your genuine concern and love. Let your family member know you are available through your words and your actions. Let them know that you are willing to help in any way reasonable.

·         Be Kind. Along with remaining available, show your love and consideration through acts of kindness. Do a chore around the house that your frustrated family member would normally do. Take extra time to sit with them. Prepare a special treat for them. Sometimes kindness may mean leaving them alone and giving them space.

·         Finally, Don’t Keep a Record of Wrongs. Everyone has bad days. We have all had times of irritability. When a loved one goes through a period of irritability and then returns to their “normal self,” don’t hold it against them. Do not keep a record of their wrongs. When they apologize, be gracious to accept that apology. And, discuss what they think would help them if (or when) they experience their next period of frustration and irritability. Perhaps above all, remember that “love covers a multitude of sins.”
I found these suggestions very helpful this last week. I hope you find them helpful as well.

Stop Apologizing & Bear Fruit

Have you ever apologized and felt like it didn’t help? I have. In fact, I think it does no good to keep on apologizing over and over again, especially when you know what you did was wrong… especially when you know you need to apologize. Perhaps you missed your child’s game because you took a nap and didn’t wake up; or, you forgot to bring home the milk you promised to pick up. Whatever it was, you apologized but things just kept getting worse. You may have found yourself asking, “What do they want from me? I said I was sorry!” Let me offer a suggestion. In order to strengthen your apology and reconcile the relationship, you need to stop apologizing and “bear the fruit of repentance.” You need to show that the apology is more than just words; it’s a heartfelt desire to make a change. How can you assure your family that you are bearing the fruit of change? Let them smell the aroma of your apology and taste the sweetness of the fruit of your repentance. Here’s how:
     ·         Acknowledge what you did was wrong and that it had an impact on the whole family. Recognize that your family members had to compensate for your wrong actions. Recognize the work they did, and continue to do, to make up for your mistake or wrongdoing. Thank your spouse for being available to take your children to their activities when you chose to watch TV. Thank your children for “picking up the slack” left by your wrongdoing. Acknowledge that your actions resulted in the family having to do more work. Admire the work they did and appreciate how well they did it.

·         Change your behavior. I realize this takes effort and you may not reach perfection overnight; but, put in a genuine effort to change. As part of your apology, identify an alternative behavior that you will strive to achieve and describe that behavior to your family. Develop a plan to help you move toward the “new and improved behavior.” Seriously, sit down with your family members and develop steps that will help you engage in the new behavior. Be diligent in working to change your behavior.

·         Reveal your commitment to change by participating in family talks, walks, and activities. Become an integral part of the family. Commit to learning about the interests and needs of other family members. Make it just as important in your life to know your family’s interests and needs as it is to know your own. Participate in your family by generously giving them your time and energy.

·         Giving generously to your family will demand some sacrifice on your part. You might have to sacrifice some of “your personal time.” You might need to sacrifice some of the energy you invest in “your thing” so you have more energy to invest in your family. I’m not saying you have to give up everything you like; but, set some limits around your own interests so you can invest more in your family. Doing this will inform your family that they are more important to you than anything else.
The diligence with which you perform these four tasks will give your family a taste of the true flavor of your apology. The joy with which you perform these tasks will let them know if the fruit of your apology is ripe and ready for enjoyment or rotten and ready for the trash. As you commit to these tasks on a daily basis, you will find that you also enjoy the juicy fruit of repentance. After all, the fruit of a sincere apology will fill the whole family with the sweet taste of intimacy, joy, and pleasure. So, stop apologizing and bear some fruit.

How to Make an Imperfect Family Amazing!!

No, my computer is not having a nervous breakdown. Contrary to popular opinion, neither am I. Yes, this article is full of mistakes, typos, faux pas…just like our families. (One of my daughters proofed this article and told me I misspelled two words.) Anyway, the mistakes are made intentionally (well, except for the two my daughter found) to help make a point. So, please take a little time and read this short article. It will help you discover the ingredient you need to make your imperfect family amazing!


Fmalieis are mdae up of ipemrfcet poelpe…peolpe taht mkae msitekas. Ecah fimaly mebemr srtievs to pacrtcie prefcet realtoisnhpis; but, teihr efoftrs cnosatnlty flal sohrt. Sbilnigs adn sopuses sepak wrods drunig the haet of agrunemts taht siptefluly pkoe at snesitvie aeras. Cihlredn adn preatns unnitnetoinlaly ignroe sbtlue rqusetes, acicdnetlaly froegt ipmotrant evnets, or myabe, on ocacsoin, itnentoinlaly isnlut one aontehr wehn mmoenatrliy oevrhwlemed wtih agner or dsipapiontemnt. Atfer all, fmalieis are mdae up of ipmerfct poelpe, sninres lkie me adn lkie yuo. How cn fmaliy rsepnod to tihs perdciamnet? A syanig cmoes to mnid: “Love cvores a mluttiude of snis.” Snicere love oevrcmoes our mstikaes. Gneiune love rameins vcitorouis oevr oru sniufl bheavoir. Love clals ecah fmaliy mmeebr to seek frgoiveenss adnn to ofefr frogveienss. Love mkaes rcenocilaitoin psosilbe. Yuo mgiht say taht Love-eevn ipmefrcelty epxrsesed Love-cvoers all the tpyos of yuor fmaliy lfie…adn birgns caalm asusrnace, paece, adnn udnertsanadnig to ecah fmaliy mebmer. Olny Love stadns outt as corrcet amdist our mnay msitkaes adn our cnosatnt sohrt-coemnigs. Love truns ipmerefct fmaileis itno amzanig fmaileis. Love gveis maennig to fmaliy. Love one aonhter.

Family Life at the Foot of the Cross

Yesterday we celebrated Easter. During the weeks leading up to Easter, I spend time thinking about Christ’s death on the cross and His victorious resurrection on Easter morning. As I meditate on these events, I recall hearing people speak about living in the shadow of the cross. This year, though, I thought about family. I contemplated what it would mean for our family to live in the shadow of the cross. How would family life change at the foot of the cross? Living at the foot of the cross promotes a healthy family life. Here are just 5 of the powerful lessons families can learn at the foot of the cross.
Give Sacrificially: Jesus gave sacrificially to restore an intimate relationship between His creation and His Father. He gave up His home in heaven. He gave up His reputation. He gave up His eternal nature as Creator to take on the nature of a servant. While on earth, He gave up His heavenly authority and submitted to the authority of His earthly parents and His Heavenly Father. Ultimately, Jesus gave up His life on the cross to make it possible for us to become sons and daughters of His Father. Giving sacrificially to our family promotes security, unity, and peace. Recent research suggests that 50% of married couples who report giving generously (sacrificially) to their family are “very happy” (sacrificially) while only 14% of those who do not give generously are happy. Give yourself to your family as Jesus gave Himself for us.
Share Kindness: As Jesus hung on the cross, He asked John to care for His mother and His mother to accept John into the family. Even as He suffered, Jesus made sure that His family was cared for. Jesus exhibited a deep kindness and compassion for His mother in this act of kindness. Families that live at the foot of the cross do the same; they share kindness and compassion with one another. They take action to meet one another’s needs. Their actions reveal that relationships matter, family is important, family members are valued. Show compassion to your family. Reach out in kindness to meet your family’s needs.
Forgive: Jesus also asked His Father to “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus could have easily harbored anger, bitterness, and resentment at the cross. Instead, He gave those who crucified Him the benefit of the doubt (“they know not what they do”) and offered them forgiveness. He forgave those who treated Him harshly. His forgiveness opened the door to reconciliation, restored peace, and invited intimacy. At the foot of the cross, we offer forgiveness when family members offend us, hurt us, or treat us harshly. The shadow of the cross shines brightly on a forgiving spirit and brings peace, restored intimacy, and deeper love to the forgiving family.
Trust in the Father’s Care: Jesus proclaimed, “Into Your hands I commit My Spirit.” He rested in His Father’s love. He gave His troubled spirit and anguished life into His Father’s care. Families living at the foot of the cross can give their troubled spirits, their worries and concerns, their anxieties and fears into the Father’s care as well. We can rest in the assurance that our Heavenly Father will care for our whole family. We can rest in His love for our family, knowing that He will never leave us, even in the midst of dire circumstances.
Hope for Tomorrow: Jesus could “endure the cross” and “despise the shame” because of the “joy set before Him.” He knew that Friday looked bleak, the cross appeared victorious, and His life seemed to be slipping away…but, Sunday would bring renewed hope. Sunday would bring new life, new assurance, and new joy. Families that live at the foot of the cross live in the assurance and hope of Sunday. They live with the assurance that our Heavenly Father ultimately has all things in His control and, because of that assurance, we can move into the future with a “joy set before us.”
I realize that Easter Sunday is past, but the hope and assurance of Christ’s resurrection lives on at the foot of the cross. When families give sacrificially, share kindness, offer forgiveness, and trust in the Father’s care they find the assurance of greater family intimacy and joy each day…all at the foot of the cross.

Conflict & Your Family Tree

All families have arguments and disagreements; no surprise there. After all, families are made up of people…“fallen” people with different ideas, different viewpoints, different weaknesses, different temperaments, different tastes, even different priorities. This leads to disagreements and, on our worst days, maybe even yelling and name-calling. But did you know that those disagreements, arguments, and fights prepare the soil of our hearts for an orchard? That’s right, whether they escalate or not, disagreements and arguments lead to hard feelings…and those feelings are like seeds waiting to be sown in the soil of our hearts.
When I encounter an argument, a disagreement, or some conflict with a family member, I face a choice. I can harbor those hard feelings. I can ruminate over things said in anger and sow seeds of resentment. I can assume the worst about my family and nurse feelings of bitterness that will eventually take root and branch out in anger and hostility toward everyone I meet. Seeds of bitterness grow into branches of resentment that filter how I see the world. Everything I see through the branches of resentment will only seem to justify my anger and support my bitterness. My relationships will suffer. Friends will begin to avoid me and my bitter sarcasm will push those who persist in relating to me away. In addition, research suggests that bitterness impacts our immune system and even organ functioning, leading to physical disease. In other words, my choice to harbor and sow seeds of bitterness and resentment will contribute to physical disease, relational sickness, and spiritual decay. Not the best choice.
My other choice is to sow seeds of forgiveness. Rather than blame the other person, I can accept responsibility for the part I played in the disagreement. Instead of focusing on the perceived hurt, I can recall seeds of blessing that I have received from family members in the past. When I want to plant seeds of bitterness, I can sow words of love, encouragement, and affection instead. Eventually, generations of kin will gather under the shade of forgiveness to celebrate family. The branches of forgiveness grow strong and children will enjoy climbing high into the tree to perceive the world from new heights and a clearer, more encompassing perspective. The exercise of climbing to new heights of forgiveness and experiencing ever increasing perspectives also strengthens our heart and nurtures our relationships. In fact, relationships thrive as families eat under the tree of forgiveness, feasting on the fruits of restored relationships, kindness, empathy, and love. These fruits of forgiveness enhance our immune system and calm our stress. In other words, my choice to forgive contributes to physical health, relational strength, and spiritual integrity.
I don’t know about you, but the choice seems clear. As for me and my house, we plant seeds of forgiveness. 

4 Fundamental Components of Spiritual Leadership

I hear many Christian men talk about their struggle as spiritual leader in the family. It’s true; men do strive to become godly spiritual leaders in the family. But, what does that mean? Does it simply mean reading the Bible with our spouse and children? Perhaps even expounding on the Scripture? Does it mean assuring that each family member spends time in pray and making time to pray together as a couple or family? Is it the spiritual leader’s responsibility to make sure the family goes to worship services and Bible studies? We like to use these activities as markers of our spiritual leadership because we can more easily measure our productivity. Statements like, “I prayed with my wife…” or “When I led my children in Bible study…” become indicators of our effectiveness as a spiritual leader. However, the mark of a great spiritual leader is much less visible than any of these behaviors imply. In fact, these visible markers tell us very little about the more subtle, and perhaps more important, actions of a spiritual leader. Consider these 4 foundational behaviors of strong spiritual leadership.
Strong spiritual leaders model a Christian lifestyle. Our families need to witness our daily lives reflecting our Christian calling. They need to see us model humility when our spouse points out our mistakes, patience while we sit in traffic, and joy in the midst of work-related stress. Our family needs to hear us encourage rather than criticize, compliment rather than complain. They will benefit from watching us live a life that models the priorities we proclaim. Each family member needs to see that our time management reflects and confirms our heartfelt priorities. Do we spend more time with family or TV, our children or our personal hobbies? Do we talk about the importance of church but choose to sleep in and skip church more often than we attend? Spiritual leaders model a lifestyle that bears witness to the Christian call.
Spiritual leaders develop loving relationships with each family member. After all, relationships are a priority to the spiritual leader. Relationships take time to develop; so, spiritual leaders spend time with each family member. Spending time with family allows the spiritual leader to informally teach values and beliefs throughout the day. Deuteronomy 6:7 gives four specific times we might teach spiritual values to our family: when we rise up in the morning, before we go to bed at night, when we sit around the house, and when we go about various tasks outside the house. Spiritual leaders infuse the normal conversation that occurs between the time we get up and the time we go to bed with statements that reflect love, honor, and integrity. Throughout the day, they look for opportunities to teach about values and beliefs. Remember, you don’t have to “beat them over the head with it.” Offer subtle and common place statements that may lead into deeper discussions. Make it part of your everyday conversation.
Spiritual leader take the initiative in practicing the “hard choices.” They lead the way in areas like forgiveness, personal sacrifice, loving the unlovable, and persevering commitment, to name a few. Spiritual leaders are the first in the family to forgive offenses. They lead by example in personal sacrifice. They may offer the final piece of pie or the better seat to a family member. Or, they may let another family member’s choice for dinner take precedent over their own. Spiritual leaders lead through service, volunteering to put aside their book, the movie, or “the game” long enough to wash the dishes, shovel the driveway, or clean the bathroom. Family members see the spiritual leader’s commitment to family when, even in the midst of disagreement, they persevere in showing love, honor, and respect.
Finally, spiritual leaders make their family a priority in prayer. They pray for their wife and children. They become prayer warriors for each family member’s physical health, emotional security, and spiritual maturity. 
Overall, the role of spiritual leader is more about personal choices and lifestyle than it is about demanding my family pray with me and have family devotions. Those things may be important. More important, however, is the lifestyle of the spiritual leader and the relationships he forms with each family member.

Protect Your Child from Depression: The Final Chapter

This is the last blog in a series entitled “Protecting Your Child from Depression.” The last 3 blogs explained that teaching children their actions make a difference and teaching them to help other people builds a life filled with happiness. Teaching them to have hope for tomorrow gives them a future with happiness. Teaching them to express gratitude helps build a past filled with happiness and a present life built upon happiness. In this last segment, we will explore one final way to protect our child from depression. This skill helps transform a painful past into a joyous presence. With that in mind, the fifth and final way we will explore to protect your child from depression is forgiveness.
Teach your child to forgive. Imagine going through life with a heavy rock in one hand and a rope tied around the other wrist. The rock allows you to threaten revenge…after all, they deserve to be stoned. Unfortunately, that rock also weighs heavy on your arm. And, being tired from carrying that weight, you lash out at others who trigger that same anger. The rope extends from your wrist and binds you to the person who has hurt you in the past; it ties you to a painful past. And, the longer you hold the grudge, the tighter the rope becomes, separating you from other people and, ultimately, from yourself. It ties you to bitter memories from the past and can contribute to feelings of depression.
There is only one way to transform those memories… forgiveness. When we forgive those who have hurt us, we drop the rock of revenge and let go of the rope—we become free to live in the present and create happiness today.
How do we teach children to forgive? First you must model forgiveness in your own life. Let them see you forgive those who hurt you. What is involved in forgiving?
Objectively recall the hurt. Work to understand the one who hurt you. Give the gift of forgiveness. Remember a time that you were given the gift of forgiveness—this will help you offer the gift to others. Hold on to that forgiveness by finding the good that came out of the situation. Did you learn something? Did you become a stronger or more sensitive person? Be grateful for that “pearl in the mud.” Every time you think of that event, remember the “pearl” and the gift of forgiveness.
Going through the process of forgiveness transforms the bitter memories of anger into the personal freedom needed to pursue joy and contentment in your current life and relationships. Learning to leave bitterness in the past and to embrace the freedom to pursue joy and contentment in the present may help protect your child from depression.
That’s it–an “immunization” against depression. Protect your child from depression by teaching them:
·         That their present actions make a difference.
·         Helping people rather than focusing only on ourselves will fill our lives with joy.
·         Expressing gratitude builds up a bank account of happy memories to draw on from the past and helps us pay attention to the joys of today.
·         Realizing the hope for tomorrow builds an enticing future of joy that we can look forward to.
·         Forgiving those who have hurt us transforms a painful past into a happy presence.

5 Steps for Forgiving Family

“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love” (Bryant H. McGill). To maintain the intimate love of family, family members have to practice forgiveness. If we do not practice forgiveness in our family, we will find our family overrun with bitterness, anger, and resentment. Without forgiveness, family will become a place of suffocating tension and unbearable pain instead of a stable and secure refuge from the world. How do we forgive? Here are 5 steps for forgiveness based on Everett Worthington’s model.
      1.      Count the Loss. This seems almost paradoxical, but the first step in forgiving someone is to objectively define what we have lost as a result of the wrong done to us. Spell out how we have been wronged and what was lost. Remain as objective as possible in this process. God did this through the prophets. He clearly defined how His people had wronged Him through idolatry, unfaithfulness, and stubbornness. He objectively told Israel how their actions robbed them of intimacy with Him and bruised His reputation. Following His example, we begin the process of forgiveness by objectively defining how we were wronged.
      2.      Realize that we have a right to expect payment for the wrong done to us, BUT (and this is a BIG BUT) we are morally incapable of collecting that debt. We are not a righteous judge. Recall a time in your own life when you wronged another person and they forgave you. Remember how undeserving you were of that forgiveness and how it made you feel to receive it. Even more, recall that our sin against God is thousands of times greater than any sin made by another person against us. When we realize how harshly we have sinned against God and how dramatically we have wronged other people, we can begin to recognize our own moral inability to exact payment for a sin against us. When we realize how freely God has forgiven us and how richly others have forgiven us, we can open up to the possibilities of forgiving another.
      3.      Drop the rocks of judgment, bitterness, and anger. In humility, give up your right for justice. Throw off resentment and cast off bitterness. Follow Christ’s example by “entrusting” yourself to “Him that judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-24). Make a conscious decision to let God act as the final Judge and Arbiter. Trust Him to balance justice and mercy in your life and the life of the one who offended you.
      4.      Make the first move and commit to follow through. Don’t wait for the other person to change or apologize. Make the first move. Initiate the actions of forgiveness. This act of altruism follows God’s example. In the story of our relationship with God, the one needing forgiveness did not approach God and ask for it. God, the One who was wronged, initiated forgiveness and carried out the work of forgiveness before we even knew what we had done. He made the first move and He followed through with the actions of forgiveness. Make the first move to forgive. Initiate forgiveness. Altruistically offer forgiveness and commit to follow through.
      5.      Follow through with work of forgiveness. Unforgiving thoughts will pop into your head. Vengeance, bitterness, and resentment may rear their ugly heads in your thought life even after you have committed to forgive. Don’t let them take hold. Take those thoughts captive, remind yourself that you have forgiven, and throw those thoughts out of your mind. Replace anger with compassion and say a pray for the other person. Replace resentment with empathy and do some kind deed for the other person. Seek out opportunities to show that person kindness. Replace bitterness with love and reach out to them in love by seeking opportunities to promote their happiness and contentment.
Forgiveness is not for the faint of heart. Forgiveness is hard work. However, forgiveness can restore relationships. Forgiveness can bring reconciliation, peace, and joy to a family. Make the first move today.

What is Forgiveness?

If you have lived in a family for any period of time (anything above an hour or so), you know that forgiveness is absolutely necessary for a healthy, strong family. In the words of Bryant McGill, “There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” When we choose to not forgive, we find ourselves tied to the past, unable to move forward and weighed down by stones of judgment, bitterness, and resentment that turn to harsh words, angry allegations, and hostile remarks indiscriminately hurled at those around us. Our perspective becomes so clouded and filtered that we can only see those things that confirm our bitterness and resentment. We act in anger, unable to find the compassion, empathy, and intimacy we truly long for. A lack of forgiveness will tear a family apart. Forgiveness is crucial to family unity, intimacy, and even personal health. But what is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is:
a decision. Forgiveness is a conscious choice. If we do not choose to forgive, resentment will take up residence in our hearts and minds. Sprouts of bitterness will surface in our life. Bitterness will continue to grow and take root unless we choose to actively dig it up and remove it from the garden of our mind. Those roots will extend to indirectly stain the character of many. Think about it. If I allow bitterness to take root and grow in my life, it will choke out compassion, kindness, and love. I will find it difficult to show kindness when I nurse resentment. And, those around me will find it difficult to show kindness to me, a person who constantly responds with biting sarcasm and sharp tones of anger. To root out bitterness and resentment, we must choose to forgive. Forgiveness is a decision, a conscious choice. What do I decide to do?
to let go of a record of wrongs.  Forgiveness is an act of love and grace. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. Forgiveness is the decision to let go of that record of wrong. The unforgiving mind and heart dwells on past hurts and ruminates on possible ways to “get back at” the offender, making them “pay for what they did.” Forgiveness, on the other hand, chooses to dwell on other things. I find it interesting that Scriptures tell us that God forgives our sin and “remembers it no more.” God does not passively forget our sin. Our sins do not “slip His mind.” No, He actively chooses to “remember it no more.” He makes a conscious, loving choice to “let go of our record of wrongs.” He offers us a “free gift” that begins with forgiveness. Forgiveness is a decision to let go of a record of wrongs and…
and the demand for revenge. There is no question about it—people do sin against us. Family members make hurtful comments. Spouses, children, parents, and siblings become impolite, unkind, rude, and even hurtful from time to time. Truly, wrongs are committed. Justice demands a price, even revenge. The offending party needs to “pay the price” for their wrong actions and words. But wait…forgiveness recognizes that the other person’s actions have not only hurt me, they have hurt that person as well. Their unkind words come back to haunt them sooner or later. Our sin will find us out and “bite us on the butt.” “What goes around comes around.” This does not mean there are no consequences. We still practice the natural consequence of misbehavior. But, forgiveness deals with the state of our heart…and the state of my heart is no better than the heart of the person who wronged me. Forgiveness recognizes my heart is morally incapable of holding another person guilty of sin when I am so great a sinner myself. Recognizing my own shortcomings allows me to… 
replace feelings of bitterness and resentment with compassion, good wishes, and even kindness. The foundation of forgiveness is laid when we make a decision to let go of a record of wrongs and the demand for revenge. Now, we have to do the work of building on that foundation. We begin to replace bitter thoughts about that person with compassionate thoughts for their well-being. When bitter thoughts of revenge and payback creep into our mind, we throw them out and replace the void they leave with good wishes for them and their family. When harsh allegations arise from the recesses of our mind, we throw them out and contemplate how to show kindness to the offender with our words and deeds.

Forgiveness is a decision to let go of a record of wrongs as well as the demand for revenge and replace feelings of bitterness and resentment with compassion, good wishes, and even kindness. Forgiveness is not for the faint of heart. Forgiveness is a battle that demands courageous action. However, when we enter that battle and bravely reach out in loving forgiveness, we find healing, intimacy, and peace beyond our wildest dreams.

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