All families have dysfunctional aspects. The dysfunctional family dynamic will hurt. To deal with these issues with good effect we must become skilled forgivers. This task is made easier with love.
I had someone wisely comment on a ‘forgiveness’ article very recently, and this person suggested that the key to forgiveness for her—what I’d call her ‘rearguard’—is love.
This is important in families, for blood is always thicker than water. It follows that we cannot get away with unforgiveness, for we ourselves will be hurt the most as it boomerangs back. With families its bound to be a repeated threat.
The answer truly is love—a heartfelt, authentically genuine love. This is accounting for the fact that we use the portents of love—our very roots and foundation—as good ‘travelling’ emphasis to arrive at genuine, heartfelt forgiveness.
This is a rock solid format for blessing, provided we can really surrender our hurt, and that requires significant portions of ongoing courage.
Serial Hurters – the Unavoidable Reality in Some Families
Some people find themselves in families where hurt is iterative or even constant. Barbs are always either poised or flown. There is seemingly no end to it or it comes with such intermittent regularity those on the receiving end are constantly expecting ‘something’.
Many people would find it hard to truly imagine the hurt and pain involved in bearing the brunt of these sorts of living ordeals. But for those affected it’s life as they know it, yet the pain and hurt they can certainly do without. Indeed, it can rip at their souls and tear away at their very identities.
What can they do but learn how to be: 1) skilful forgivers, and 2) potential leavers?
Answering Some of the Harder Questions – to Stay or Leave
Should people stay in abusive relationships? Many, many do. They endure them for years and just become less and less their own person the longer they endure it. They ‘support’ a partner or endure a sister, brother, mother or father because they don’t know what else to do. It’s a soul-destroying reality and it’s toxic for the victim and potentially others who are also involved.
Should someone who’s being abused leave? They should seriously consider it. God can only bless a situation where courage meets with commitment to make for a better life when things become untenable and there’s positively no hope for change.
Of course, for many it’s not as easy as ‘up ‘n’ leaving’. They perhaps cannot escape the relationship. And that’s okay too.
Forgiveness; Beautiful, Pure, Love-Bound Forgiveness
Genuine forgiveness cannot come without the love of true empathy. For the abusive partner or family member we can still walk a mile in their shoes. They actually live a very scary and increasingly irreconcilable reality—we wouldn’t want to be in their skin with all that anger and bitterness boiling away deep beneath.
Empathy is the beginning. It separates us out from the situation and has us deciding to focus on what is external to us. This sort of focus can possibly help us become more humble, and certainly less scared, regarding our circumstances.
Forgiveness is now made easier for we’re not simply polarised only in our own hurt, but we see the underlying hurt of the other person or people, and we begin to see the entire context better. It transforms our views and the light of compassion can break through.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
With acknowledgement to Grace.