Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Forgiveness vs. Olive Branch

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was thinking about reaching out to some family that I haven't spoken to in quite some time... over 6 years to be exact. There are a few things holding me back so I thought I would put pen to paper and see what I come up with... well at least fingers to keyboard.

Thought 1. Why do I feel the need to reach out to them? I think it stems from having Chase and not having a lot of family to offer him. Don't get me wrong... I have my dad and his girlfriend and I am so glad that God blessed me with them. I also have my moms cousin Winnie who I have come to have a relationship with ever since our NY trip. Other than that though, I am out. No one else. I am an only child. My mom had one sister and she has 3 daughters (the aforementioned family that I am currently not speaking to). Now my grandmother was 1 of 9 and my grandfather was 1 of 10 so I am sure I have a smattering of cousins, aunts, uncles and other bloodlines but none that are close enough to actually be the family I am looking for. Another reason for reaching out... I have fond memories of our families spending time together... we vacationed together, spent Christmas' together... you know, family stuff. Another reason... with my keen interweb skills I found out that one of my cousins had a daughter and C2 and C3 live together in Maine. Curiosity is a driving force because I am dying to know which cousin had the baby.

2. Why haven't I reached out to them yet? This is an easy one... if it were just a fight that my mom had with Auntie and C1 then I am sure this wouldn't even be an issue. I get it... sisters fight, families fight. However, Auntie and C1 crossed a line when C1 left this message on 4.22.02 "Message is for [my mom]. You are dead in my eyes and I never want to talk to you again. I want nothing to do with you. As far as I'm concerned, you're dead. You died today, goodbye." That message has kept me from reaching out to Auntie, C1, C2 and C3. Now let me clarify here... I do NOT harbor resentment or hate them in any way shape or form. Pattie O* once said "Hate doesn't know who it's directed at." and I believe that to be true. I do my best not to have hate and negativity in my world because it plays out in all other relationships. I forgave them along time ago for their words... Mainly because I feel sorry for them. I can't imagine what it is to have that kind of hatred and misery in your life. I feel for them because they don't know the warm embrace of Jesus. To me, that makes all the difference in the world. That being said, I hurt for the way those words affected my mom. Some of her only family wishing death on her, which she had cheated for 17 years at that point. I know how alone it made her feel and my heart aches because nothing can be said or done to take that away. To that end, I wonder why I would want to subject myself to the possibility of this hatred spewing at me, God forbid I do something they didn't like (perhaps write about it on a blog ;~). Why would I want to invite that into my life? It is the same reason I don't reach out to my birth father... why risk the rejection and hurt which has so clearly been demonstrated.

So my quandary.... when does forgiveness end? As a Christian should I keep going and extend the olive branch or have I met my obligation? Do I need to try to mend this relationship? I am struggling to think (or find) a specific verse that has to do with going to the person who wronged you... I have the idea of it in my mind but would love to find it in the bible so I could really think and study on it.

Ironically I check this blog frequently and she posted this the other day. Her post got me thinking again and spurred me to finish this entry.

I am really just trying to sort out my thoughts and feelings about this mess but I am open to advice and comments. I will always listen to what you have to say... However, don't be surprised if I do my own thing ;~)

*Pattie O is an AA speaker that I listen to time and time again. I can never hear her story often enough. Even if you aren't an alcoholic, the messages and stories are so moving, sometimes it can't help but change you.


kathi said...

I am a strong advocate for forgiveness. To harbor ill will doesn't benefit anyone and plus we've all been forgiven so many times (and anyone who says differently is dillusional), how can we refuse that the free gift we've been given to others?

With that said, because we've forgiven does not we have to allow that person in our life. More often than not, there is good reason not to let them in our lives. As my oldest (and wise) son has said, he's forgiven his dad but that doesn't mean he has to hang around him.

One thing, though. I do suggest you pray for these people daily. It's hard to harbor ill will for someone you pray for daily. Your a smart girl, ask God, and listen. :)


Johnnie Avocado said...

Kathy advises well.....and my thoughts are...scripture tells us to ask for forgiveness 3 times, and after that the "problem" isn't yours. Not that your asking foregiveness. Sometimes it's nice to just clear the air, even if your not looking for a relationship......but I think this is a good rule on when you have to realize that the weight isn't on your shoulders. I think you only truly have forgiven, when the though of the "forgiveness" no longer crosses your mind. (and this is hard to do, but something I strive for)

Carrie and Scott said...

I agree with both comments. You can try to "clear the air 3 times" but it still doesn't mean that you have to "hang out" with them. You may just feel a little lighter, like you made the effort. As a believer by humbling yourself to them you may just save them, maybe not right away but someday.