Family Stories Forgiveness Received

Please Describe a Time in Your Family When You Needed and Received Forgiveness.

Back when I was a teenager, I was very lost and confused. I left my parents’ home at age 17. I made so many mistakes. I began to drink and do drugs. I was disrespectful to my family. I went down a long path to nowhere. I was ashamed of myself and did not see my family for years. As time went on, I was feeling so alone, and I missed my family so much. One day I asked the Lord to forgive my behavior and give me the strength to contact my family and help me straighten up my life. I did not want to be this person anymore. I needed to be a part of my family again. I contacted my family and asked them to please forgive me and accept me back. I told them how much I loved them and missed them and promised to go get help. I went to drug rehab and therapy and got my life back. I am very close to my family now. I have raised four children and have six grandchildren. I let my kids know that I love them dearly. No matter what they do, I will always be there for them.
—L. S., Colorado Springs, CO

It was the evening of my graduation from junior high. My grandparents had come to town for my graduation. After the ceremony when they asked to have a picture taken with me, I made a sarcastic comment. I later found out that it made my grandfather cry. I felt so horrible. I look up to my grandparents so much. It was then that I realized the power of words and how they can hurt the people we love most. It wasn't until I was an adult that I had the nerve to ask my grandfather's forgiveness. He welcomed me with open arms just as he always had. He told me that he had even forgotten about the incident and he didn't realize that I had known that he cried. He gave me a big hug, and we both cried then.
—M. Q., Visalia, CA

A very close and dear family member of mine was murdered by a gang of nine teenage/young adult males about a decade ago. I went through a very rough time dealing with the murder, both mentally and emotionally. This dear one was a very devout Catholic and attended Mass every day. She was always looked up to by all of us kids in the family as a saint walking on earth. I found it very troublesome and hard to understand how someone could murder such a "saintly" person. How could God allow a faithful child of his own to be subjected to such horrible cruelty?

My physician referred me to counseling to help me get over the ordeal. It just so happened that my counseler/therapist was a devout Catholic. She helped me deal with the hurt, the loss, the tragedy, and the feelings of helplessness and disbelief. After a year of therapy (counseling), I began to realize that my loved one was not hurting. She was indeed in heaven with God our Father and was very happy. It was at this time that I had to begin working on forgiveness toward those that had brought her harm. This was not an easy thing to do. I wrestled with knowing that forgiving was what God expected. But I felt in my heart that this act of murder was unforgivable. How could I forgive such a crime against my family? After much prayer I began to give of myself by volunteering with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) and working with children whose parents abused or neglected them. I saw how most of these children had been practically left to raise themselves from early childhood. These kids have been through very rough times. I began to see the nine teenagers who murdered my loved one in a different light. I began to feel that they very well may have been neglected/abused and left to care for themselves. Perhaps they were never told about God and all he can do for us.

With time, I began to forgive a little more each day.
—Sharon, Alexandria, LA

During my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college, I was really questioning my faith. I was casually dating a guy who was a Mormon. He was happy to share his faith with me, and I went to church with him most weekends while I was home. I didn't see him much after I started college, but I continued going to the campus LDS (Mormon) church. I even went through the sessions necessary to convert and started making plans for my baptism. When I came home one weekend, my mother and I went to this guy's house so my mom could talk to them about what was going on. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I was considering converting because she was so strong in the Catholic faith. It broke her heart when she found out; we were both in tears. I didn't know what to do. I had been raised Catholic and went to a Catholic elementary school. I had also just gone through Confirmation during my junior year in high school. After a lot of tears and talking, I told my mother that I would think and pray on the issue more without doing anything. I decided to refrain from going to the LDS church on campus for a while.

After Christmas break I had a new roommate move into my room at college. She was also a Catholic, and she was very open to listening to everything that was going on. She never passed judgment on me, which was wonderful. She never pressured me into going to church with her, but I found myself going with her. At the end of February that year, the youth director at my home parish contacted me about returning to help out with the Confirmation retreat. She didn't know anything of what was going on. I thought that this would be a wonderful opportunity for me to get away from everything and to just think and pray. If there was ever a time to get my answer, this was the weekend. I went on the retreat and had a wonderful time catching up with friends who had come back to be leaders. I definitely got my answer during the course of the weekend as to what direction I should go, and it came in the form of another guy. After we talked about anything and everything all night, I knew I had the answer I had been looking for. All thoughts of becoming Mormon left my mind forever.

Even though I never directly asked my mother for forgiveness for everything that I put her through, she freely gave it. I felt terrible for what I had put her through. After all of this, I continued to go back every year to help out with the Confirmation retreat and became a Confirmation small-group leader along with my husband—the guy from the retreat—the year after we got married. I have always been so close to my mother, and I am very happy that she would have supported me no matter what even if it would have broken her heart. I don't know what I would have done without her support and forgiveness.
—B. N., Indianapolis, IN

I did not grow up in the happiest of homes. Because of how our parents treated us there were about 10 years that I didn't speak to two of my siblings. One day while eating out with my husband and then nine-year-old son, my brother came over to the table and bent over to give me a kiss on the cheek. We exchanged phone numbers and my son finally got to meet his grandparents and uncle and aunt for the first time. I asked for his forgiveness because I had held a grudge for so long.
—Y. P., Cleveland, OH

One recent morning my 20-year-old son asked me if I had talked to his grandmother. She and I had an argument over the weekend, and he was wondering if we had made up. I replied that I had not. He said it’s not right to get mad back at the person just because they got mad at you first. It made me stop and think that he was right. I forgave her and made that phone call. My very sweet and forgiving son taught me a lesson that I’ll never forget.
—Michelle Gourley, Barnegat, NJ

When I was 19 years old, I became pregnant. It was a definite accident, and I quickly had an abortion. Afterward, I was totally ashamed. I hid it from my family and pulled away from the church. It totally destroyed me, and I fell into a deep depression. After about four years, I could not take it anymore. It began when I went to church with my family on Mother's Day. My sister was about 6 months pregnant. When they said the prayer for mothers, I started bawling as I was so overwhelmed with the Holy Spirit. That day I finally confessed my secret to my family. I am still amazed at how wonderful, understanding, and forgiving my family was. Their support helped to give me the strength to recover from my depression and move on with my life.