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“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” ~ Lewis B. Smedes
It’s not hard to own the hurts we suffered as children and adolescents. Often, they are packed away in the suitcases that carry us away from home and out into the world.
Quarrels, punishments, being discounted and being treated unfairly are taken along with all the necessities, gifts and treasures. We make promises to ourselves saying that we will NEVER treat our kids the way our family treated us. Scott Fitzgerald likens these wounds to ‘splits in the skin that won’t heal’. So we arrive at our destination, unpack, and neatly tuck them away as well earned, lifelong resentments. They become poisonous possessions.
“Sticking with your family is what makes it a family.” ~ Mitch Albom
Forgiving family members for the cruelties, meanness and injustice we suffered is not absolving them for those behaviors. A friend of mine had a difficult childhood with a mother who was filled with anger and pain. Her loving responses always came with strings attached. She was rarely fair to her little girl and often filled her with shame and guilt.
My friend struggled and kept going back for more, sometimes doubting her own quality of mothering with her children. Finally, she determined to have a relationship with her mother that had clearly defined boundaries. She made a profession of forgiveness to her mother and extended forgiven-ness to herself. She loves her mother from a safe distance and has released herself from bondage.
Visits back home do not allow for putdowns or guilt trips. Her family and memories as restored treasures since she emptied out the packed away resentments and claimed freedom.
The work of healing cannot begin until we find it in our hearts to let go. Family is a gift presented to us by a loving God. These are the people who know us best and with whom we are most deeply connected. We must find ways to stick together.
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Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.
In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.
His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.
Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin
Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast