Is it possible for families to really be strong without forgiveness, and for forgiveness to truly exist without reconciliation?
That may be a loaded question, but our recent teachings on the family call for a deeper look at how we actually apply the scriptures to our everyday lives. Do we truly do as the Word says, or do we split hairs when things get hard?
There was an old school TV show – and more recently a movie called, “The Addams Family.” (No pun intended…well maybe, LOL.) Its main characters were named for some of the personalities we often see in our own families, such as Cousin It and Uncle Fester. Their names were foretelling of some of the unfortunate generational cycles buried beneath the surface of many families. Regardless of our age, nationality, whether we grew up in the suburbs or lived in the inner-city, we’ve all experienced secret “its” that “festered” when left unaddressed.
Maybe the secret “it” was infidelity, addiction or even a form of abuse. Or perhaps it was envy, betrayal or a bitter divorce. Whatever “it” was, the pain of dealing with it eventually made forgiveness feel inconceivable and reconciliation flat out impossible. It’s often easier to forgive something we deem as small, but if we’re honest even believers struggle when the wounds run deep.
Some say forgive and forget, which may be a hard pill to swallow. But maybe it would be easier to forgive so we don’t forget – forget how God has forgiven us, forget how God gave us the strength to make it through the pain in the first place, and forget that our family’s pain is part of the enemy’s plot.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” (John 10:10a ESV). The devil is jealous of the family, and he has been since day one. He deceived Adam and Eve because of their communion with God the Father. The devil hated their fellowship and position because he had lost his own (Isaiah 14:12-15). As a result, he wanted nothing more than to see God’s precious little creation fall (Genesis 3:1). The same holds true today. The enemy hates the family and has done everything possible to destroy it, even down to the way family is defined.
Yet God our Father has a perfect plan. God wants all the families of the earth to be blessed and strong (Genesis 28:14). But He can’t heal what we won’t reveal. It’s not that He doesn’t know all about “it.” He’s simply waiting on us to be willing to release it. Ignoring problems, disappointments, secrets, and lies doesn’t make them go away. We have to be willing to do the work. What work? The work of communicating our feelings, praying for and with one another, forgiving even when we don’t think we’re at fault, and not giving up on our loved ones. God wants us to follow His model of love. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged,” (I Corinthians 13:4-5 NLT).
God doesn’t promise that our families will be perfect, but He does promise to perfect us through our families. He created families so we could walk out His example of love and unity. He placed us in families so we don’t have to experience life alone (Psalm 68:6). He also wants us to be a part of His perfect family – His Kingdom family. That’s why the Son was sent into the world – to forgive us of our sins and reconcile us back to the Father.
Admittedly, forgiveness can be hard and in some cases reconciliation has yet to come. But we know that’s God’s desire for our lives, so we keep taking steps toward it. A step for some may be praying for the ones who wronged us or maybe, as our Apostle H. Daniel Wilson recently challenged us, calling them for the first time in years.
Forgiveness and reconciliation may look different for each of us, but one thing should consistently remain – peace. For some of us peace may look like a beautiful family reunion. For others, it may simply be peace within – an inner peace that we did our part even if the others weren’t willing to do their own. “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled,” (Hebrews 12:14-15).
So what are your thoughts, eFam? Can families really be strong without forgiveness? Is it possible for forgiveness to truly exist without reconciliation? The eBlog is open for discussion! What do you believe?
Min. Stacy Adams