Forgiving Your Family’s Sins
Science has recently begun to understand forgiveness’ advantages, but religious institutions have long preached its virtues. Forgiving has been shown to enhance hope and lower levels of worry and sadness. People who are unable to forgive often have increased heart rates, blood pressure, and other health issues. Blame, rage and hostility are harsh reactions that have been related to ill health, including heart disease and worse. Most people who have forgiven family members would attest to the satisfaction they felt upon letting go of the emotional weight they had been carrying.
Why Forgiveness is Hard
Many people struggle with forgiveness because they don’t fully comprehend what it entails. Most people believe that if they forgive the ones who have wronged them, the other person will be completely absolved of all responsibility and will be allowed to go on with their misdeeds.
Meanwhile, the person who was wronged has to go on suffering. But while God has commanded us to forgive others, He doesn’t ask that we continue to suffer if a person continues to wrong us.
Forgiving Family Members
It is often hardest to forgive family members because of the trust that is lost when we feel wronged. Family is supposed to be the ones who stand by you no matter what, and it is doubly hurtful when a family member turns against you, even if for a moment.
Imagine if you are a teenager, and your parent asks you to always be honest. You admit to drinking with your friends, but you still get into trouble with your parents. It feels like you held up your part of the bargain, but your parent did not because they became angry.
Instead of forgiving you for drinking when you shouldn’t have, your parent turned against you. But remember, your parent may get angry because they are worried for your health and safety. Many people express fear as anger. So if your parent is fearful that you will start a habit of drinking, it’s natural that they are angry.
Understanding is the Key to Forgiveness
No matter what the situation, the key to forgiveness is understanding. All of us are human. Only God is divine. As humans, we need to remember that we will fail. When another person wrongs you, it helps to try to understand why they said what they said or why they took the actions they did.
Maybe your brother talked about you behind your back to his friends in a mean way. Or maybe your adult sister refuses to help you care for your elderly parents. Consider why a family member is acting in a hurtful way. Putting yourself in the other person’s situation may help you to find a path to forgiveness.
Forgiving Sins is God’s Domain
If a family member has not only wronged you but sinned against God’s laws, you do not need to ask forgiveness from God on their behalf. Every person is accountable for their own actions. The best thing you can do is to try to be a good example for them and to pray for them. In time, your good example and willingness to forgive them may help to heal your relationship.