The premise to begin with is the typical family dust-up, whether one-to-one or communal... This article does not cover issues of family hurt in the criminal sense.
A GOOD PLACE to learn compassion and grace is within family—there, apart from our workplaces, we’ll never be more tested regarding our patience, tolerance and familial resilience. And even though love wins comprehensively in the matter of family relationships, generally, there are always times when family will hurt each other.
Successful families are not those that get love right every time, but they do strive to understand and forgive one another for transgressions made—with allowance made for personal styles of non-textbook apology and forgiveness.
Getting family right, hence, is a choice, as loving someone, even after we’ve been hurt, is a choice.
‘Trust, Even After What They’ve Done?’
Most people will think that trusting someone who’s hurt us is fraught with danger.
It’s only fraught with danger when we continue to trust, and that trust is continually thwarted toward abuse. Most times we trust again, having been hurt, and the person that hurt us is surprised and relieved by our genial grace and they are never friendlier, especially a family member who may not have wanted to hurt us in the first place.
Many people get angry, losing control, despite themselves—especially in family affairs. Such a loss of control can prove utterly embarrassing. There’s a significant portion of shame to be dealt with. Most people will want to deny these feelings.
When the person we’ve hurt responds later in a forgiving way, we notice their grace and we appreciate it. More intimacy is built on the foundation, and an apology may soon surface within us. Their grace didn’t communicate to us that they were a pushover; no, it communicated to us their kindly, patient strength—that our relationship meant more to them than their selfishness to pull away and hold resentment.
If we can, likewise, we extend our benefit of the doubt as we try and understand things from another person’s point of view.
Love is easy when there’s no conflict. Love’s test, then, is to choose to love, by our trust and effort for openness, having been hurt. Upon such an action we experience a blessing from God: we kept a family dynamic together that was exposed for significant damage. This is no insignificant thing. Disregarding how our act for trust is received, God is pleased with our faith.
Such effort for openness, when we’d be excused to draw away, is not, again, the exemplification of a pushover, but the characterisation of a courageous leader within the family. It’s not negating what they’ve done to us; it’s merely issuing a second chance. And in the issuing of grace we demonstrate we’re the strong ones; the strong should assist the weak—disregarding age and status in the family.
Trusting those family members again who’ve hurt us is the grace of love underpinned by strength. When it’s far easier to withhold forgiveness, our choice to love is the most powerful sign that our love is real.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.