Family Stories: Forgiveness Given

Please Describe a Time in Your Family When You Were Called Upon to Forgive Someone and Found the Grace to Do So.

I had a spoken business deal with a family member who then went behind my back and tried to sell items without my knowledge to make more profit for her own self. I was very angry, upset, and hurt that she would do this to me, but eventually I forgave her for it and told her that it’s better to have family than to worry about a few extra dollars.
—C. A. T., Kersey, PA

Eleven years ago, my husband, the father of my child, was brutally murdered. They arrested the individual who committed this act. He was found “unfit to stand trial” and placed in a mental institution just south of where we lived. I was very angry and hostile toward this individual. About two-and-a-half years after the incident occurred, I received a phone call from a therapist. She stated that she was this individual's treating physician and spoke with me at length regarding his emotional status and his feelings toward the events that lead up to his incarceration. She asked if she could phone me again, and I agreed. We spoke several times over about a three-month period. During the second-to-last phone call I received from her, she had a question from the individual who committed the murder. His question to me was, “Can you ever forgive me for what I did to you and your son?”

Wow! What do you say? It took me a few seconds and then I remembered something that my mother and grandmother always said to me: “You can forgive, you don't have to forget.” When that thought came to me, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. I told the physician to let her client know that “Yes, I did forgive him.” We went on with our conversation and hung up. I did not give it a second thought. I just felt 100% better than I had in years.

Growing up, I had a brother, the eldest of the five children in our family, who was very abusive. Since both of my parents had to work, this went on for some years. A brother who was just a bit older and I were the victims. The abuse was physical; we were beaten many times. When we were older and out of the armed services, my near-age brother and I talked about it. We decided that we should forgive and try to forget the years of abuse, and we were successful.
—J. C., Hightstown, NJ

Growing up, I never truly had a relationship with my father. I always “blamed” him for my problems as a teenage girl. I would say, “If my father had been there for me more, I wouldn’t be the way I am today.” However, in trying to make peace with myself, I decided I had to forgive my father for being who he was—a distant, unemotional person. Not that that was the way he wanted to be, but that was the way he was brought up. I have made it a point to get close to my dad in the way I know he knows how. We golf and joke and go out to eat. I understand that I will never go to my dad when I need a shoulder to cry on. I go to someone else for that.

I had a friend that I knew was unintentionally putting her son in a bad environment. I tried to make her understand that she was making a big mistake. She would not hear me. Her son was put in an abusive situation. She was devastated that she hadn't listened to me. I had a hard time forgiving her for letting this happen. I just couldn't get over the fact that this child's abuse could have been prevented. I had to dig deep down and ask God for help to forgive her. It was very difficult, but by the grace of God I forgave.

I had a run-in with a teacher who had different views about my child's education. She was so adamant with her views that there was no speaking to her on the subject. I prayed a lot about the situation, and God gave me the grace to forgive her. I realized that this person's views were not what was important in life. This was just a small conflict on the road to Christ.
—K. M., Brunswick, OH

Just recently my youngest brother stopped talking to me because of something that someone said that I did. It took about six months before he would even speak to me or allow me to speak to my only niece. When he finally did speak to me, I found out what was going on. I explained to him that I never said anything of the kind. Since he waited so long to talk to me about it, he wasted some very important time. Not only did his daughter suffer, but my children suffered as well because someone was being a trouble-maker. I told him that I forgave him for the time that we wasted. Someone was just causing trouble and that we would never speak of it again. If there was ever another situation like that, he must come right to me and speak to me about it. I love him and his family, and, no matter the problem, we would be able to get through it and forgive each other.
—W. M. F., Blackstone, MA

My brother-in-law borrowed my car while I was away on a business trip. Upon coming home, I discovered that my car was still gone. I learned that he had been driving it on and off for the week I was gone. When I asked him to return it so that I could get to work the following day, he assured me he would. Then he called and advised that he was going to a late dinner and would not be able to return the car until the morning. The next morning he ran late, which caused me to be late. I was furious. Then I pictured myself in the same position years earlier, when I had my parents’ car in a similar situation. I realized that I had been forgiven for that experience, so I in turn should do the same for my family member.

—B. M., Tarzana, CA

My father was never really there for my brother and me after my parents divorced. He neglected to pay my mother child support and drank heavily. There were times when he promised to pick us up and then would never show. When he did come and get us, he would drink or do drugs around us. This would lead him to criticize our mother in front of us. Our mom made it our decision whether we wanted to see him or not. My brother would occasionally disown him as a father. I just figured that I had no control over who my father was. I accepted my father for who he was. I believe that God presents situations to each of us for a reason and that this was a situation I needed to deal with and learn from. I believe that I am a better parent to my child because I learned from the mistakes that my father made.

My mother has had a mental condition all my life. I resented the fact that she could never be the mother that other people had. I finally blew up at her and got all the old grievances off my chest. My mother was deeply hurt, but she forgave me and continues to try to mend the old harm and pain that existed for years in our relationship.
—L. L. C., Olivet, MI

My parents divorced when I was 12, and it caused some trauma in my life. I blamed my mom at the time and moved in with my dad. Several years later, my mom (after finding Christ) cried and asked for forgiveness for the divorce. I had forgiven her long ago, but it made us closer anyway.
—S. V., Bellingham, MA

My mother suffers from mental instability. A few years ago she told everyone that she had a serious, life-threatening condition. I later found out that she had lied to everyone about it to get attention. I must say that it took me a long time to forgive her, but I thought about how God would have handled it. I talked to her and told her how much it hurt me and the rest of the family. She didn't apologize for it, but I forgave her and let it go.
—M. Q., Visalia, CA

My sister and I had a big fight regarding money several years back. We hadn't talked for over a year. In that time, she had a child, and mine was almost one year old. At Christmas that year I decided to let the past be the past so that our children could benefit from having close-knit aunts in their lives.

My sister-in-law had insulted one of my children several years ago. I held a grudge against her for a long time. She recently found out that she is ill. I realized that I needed to move on and forgive her. We still don't have the best relationship. But I feel at ease when I am around her, knowing that I have no ill feelings toward her.

My son's biological father lied to me and left me alone when I was pregnant with my son. I never hated anyone so much as I hated him. After I gave birth to my son, I was always praying. I asked God why that man had lied. He left me alone to raise my son. Thinking God was not answering me, I finally realized he had answered. Each day I look at my son and I realize what a great gift I have. My baby's biological father was the one who gave him to me. I have found it in my heart to forgive him. He is the one that gave me the best gift ever: my son.
—Jackie M., Vancouver, WA

When I turned 30, I came to an epiphany in my life, one that I know others often don't reach until later in life. I had finally become the person I had strived to be. I was finally happy with myself and who I had become. Part of that was finding a way to forgive my parents for my childhood. I was not physically abused in any way, but I was mentally abused. I’m sure you’ve heard the kind—“you'll never be as good as your brother”—as well as other various mind games (e.g. I wanted a denim jacket for school one year, but my brother got one). I was not the “favorite” child and often felt neglected. Everything revolved around my little brother. At 30, I had finally found I was able to forgive them for the way I was raised. It was if a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Against all odds (my parents also didn't think I would amount to much), I took my high school degree to a human resources management position. I was married to a wonderful man, had a great home, and a great pet. I stopped giving a hoot about what everyone else thought and just became myself.

I forgave my brother, too. I needed to forgive my parents and brother simply to give myself peace. I could not move on with my life and enjoy the fruits of my labor without it. I have felt so much better for it. I regret I didn't do it years before.
—M. K., Pittstown, PA

When I was about 17 years old my father was very sick. I was quite the daddy's girl and adored my father. We come from a large family of seven kids. My dad always wore one piece of jewelry, a St. Anthony medal. When he was going into the hospital for the last time, he gave it to me. He said I should wear it until he needed it again. Needless to say it meant a lot to me. Anyway, about a year later, all my jewelry was stolen out of my room. It was a family member who did it, and I was very, very angry. I knew that material things could be replaced, but that medal was more than that to me—it was a connection to my father. I was angry at everyone. I looked all over for the medal in pawn shops for a long time. I never found it. I remember the day I finally was able to let my anger go. I was so upset that I started feeling bad. I knew the person who had taken the medal. I also knew this person has a problem with alcohol. I prayed for forgiveness for the strength to forgive him. I was able to forgive him. I felt so much better and I was able to remember my dad with a forgiven heart.
—M. D., Shirley, NY

When I was doing my wedding arrangements, my husband asked his youngest sister, who was 20 years old, to be one of my bridesmaids. She didn't like me because she thought I was taking her brother from her. My wedding came and went. When I received my wedding pictures, I saw that she had a bored or angry expression on her face in all the pictures that she appeared in. Everyone else was smiling. Even in the group picture she stared at me with disgust. I cried because my pictures were ruined. My husband asked me to let it go. One day, several months after my wedding, she came to my house and asked me to forgive her for ruining my wedding pictures. I looked at her and gave her a big hug and told her that I had forgiven her a long time ago.
—B. M., North Plainfield, NJ

Years ago when I was a newlywed, my mother-in-law was consistently mean to me. I tried everything in my power to please her, but nothing worked. It got so bad that I found it difficult to be around her. As the years went by, she became very ill. I was there every day helping her the best I could. One day she was in tears as she asked my forgiveness for all the years she treated me unkindly. She told me I was a wonderful wife for her son and a great mother for her grandchildren. I was the best daughter-in-law she could have ever wanted. Through God’s grace, I was able to forgive her.
—L. D., Stratford, CT

My mother-in-law has always treated me like an outsider. For example, she will give my husband Christmas gifts yet never give me anything. After about five years I decided not to let it eat me up and to just accept it. I forgive her because she is the troubled one. I should just overlook her shortcomings. God will take care of the rest. So I am always kind and take what she dishes out with a smile. I know that God is watching me forgive her for her behavior.
—C. R., Weatherford, TX

My husband’s ex-wife seemed to always be a bad ache in my side. Whenever she was in town, I hated being around her or having my husband near her. I don't know why, but I just can't stand this person. I would go out of my way to not be near her or to hear about her. She has always been rude, and would try to come in between my husband and me, or start a horrible rumor. I finally gave in and forgave her in my own way. I now simply smile and say hello to her anytime I see her. Not only does it make me feel so much better not holding a grudge, it makes her think I am up to something since I am so happy and polite around her. In my own way she is forgiven for being so rotten, and I forgave myself for taking so long to get rid of the excess baggage.
—B. R. J., Marceline, MO