This week Michelle shared her story of choices that hurt her and her children, and how she ran back to His love. She shared how those choices were still impacting her children, though she changed years ago.
This week’s challenge is for all of us who have impacted a loved one with a choice that we regret.
- Don’t make excuses
- Sincerely apologize
- Make amends
- Start fresh
Not too long ago a woman told me how she had invited people (years earlier) into her home that had harmed her children. Now, she was alienated from her grown children. She grieved over the separation.
“How did that impact them?” I asked.
She looked at me oddly. “We don’t talk about it. Why would we? I’m not that same person anymore.”
“Have you truly listened to the impact it had on your children?” I asked.
“They should forgive. I’m different now.”
Yes, they should forgive, but what if they don’t know how? What if forgiveness, as described by their mom, was to pretend like it never happened?
Many times we change and then expect others to change at the same rate.
I’m different. I’m new. Brand new. So should you be!
When they try to explain we either meet it with excuses (I didn’t know, it was because of him, it wasn’t my fault) or we try to point them to who we have become.
But in a sense, that just keeps that person trapped in the past. There’s no way to explain what took place, and how it affected them, or why it hurt.
What might happen if we listened without excuses, and really understood what it felt like from their view? It gives us a solid place to sincerely apologize, and if applicable, to make amends.
I’ll never forget when my mom asked me to describe what it was like to grow up in our home. I didn’t want to go there. I knew it would be too painful for her. But she insisted, and hours later we both sat on the couch, totally spent and our faces tear streaked.
“I’m so sorry,” she said.
The interesting thing is that I had come to accept that she saw it differently, that I may never receive an apology. I had ran after God’s healing regardless of whether anyone else changed or not.
I didn’t need an apology any more to love her fully. But it still was amazing that she offered it, and that she listened and truly was brave enough to hear what I had to say. It also allowed me (later) to hear how she struggled as a young mom, broken, in a haze of meds that made her feel like taking her life and sent her into spiraling rages.
Once you listen, really listen, even if it’s painful, and you apologize, and you make amends, you are free to start fresh. You’ve done all that you can do, and you can pray and hopefully rejoice with your loved one in their healing process. But you are free to embrace God’s grace so that joy marks your life, rather than regret over the past.
So, this is your challenge.
Have you truly listened? Have you sincerely apologized? Have you made amends?
This is a great reading for me this morning. I am moving myself through the necessary steps, both inside myself (head and heart) and in the practical world (meeting with an attorney) to tell my abusive husband we must end our marriage.
Reading this makes me realize that I need to truly listen to him, and hear his side to this. I need to apologize for my bitterness and resentment (when I lost touch with God) and I need to try to lay grace on the process of separating our one home into two.
I am asking for prayers as I stumble forward toward a better life. Thank you.
Lord, give her wisdom, protection, compassion, unexpected strength. In Jesus’ name, amen and amen!
I struggle with this with my mother. She says that she wants us to be close, but whenever I allow her into my life she comes in like a bull breaking china who thinks you should be happy for all the destruction. I don’t know how to love her yet I know I must forgive her and walk in love. I don’t believe that I need an apology, bu a sincere one would be nice. it is so difficult with her. A counselor once told me that when I dealt with my mother I came away all sticky and icky as if I was dealing with a “tar baby”. I don’t know how to deal with the sticky and icky without getting depressed and losing myself. Your prayers will be greatly appreciated.
Lora, I’m so sorry that you have such a challenge with your mom, but I also hear the heart of a daughter who says, “I want exactly what God wants in this situation”. Sometimes, that is opening the door to your heart to a future with your mom, but boundaries due to the reality of the situation. Or giving grace but also speaking truth in love. Only you and God can find that path, but know this — God wants you to be free! Free from resentment. Filled with compassion and grace, but also strength. I talk about this in Chapter One and also in another chapter in The Unburdened Heart, because it’s the reality of the complexities of forgiving.
I’m in a similar relationship with my mother. She says she forgives but she can’t forget. As a result there’s this constant resurrection of past hurts. I struggle with how minister to her. She is not an easy person to talk to as she is so argumentive.
I’ve been able to forgive long before my offender has sought forgiveness, he may not ever even get to that point.
I really like your point that we expect others to change at the same rate, it’s definitely an unrealistic expectation.
Powerful! We don’t want to wait to be free until someone else changes. Thanks, Esther, for jumping into the conversation today.
Sometimes I feel like I forgive & then it hurts still & makes me feel like I have to forgive all over again. This process seems like it’s never going to end. I don’t know how to sincerely forgive. I just got out of a 2 year relationship and there was a lot of hurt from both sides. He cheated & because I never really forgave him, I would verbally abuse him almost every day. We’re taking time apart to seek God & really see what He wants for us individually, whether that’s to return together or not. It’s difficult because we love each other, but I know I still haven’t fully forgiven him. Some days I remember what he did & I get very angry & I don’t know what to do with the anger. Other days I remember what I did & I feel so ashamed. It’s a heavy burden sometimes. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if God wants this man & me to be together. I don’t know if we’re supposed to not talk @ all right now or what. It’s so overwhelming at times & I feel so helpless even though I know God is with me. How do you let go? What does that even look like? Do you have to convince yourself to let go?
I grew up in an abusive home with an abusive father. When I decided to forgive it was for me not him. Little did I know God would start changing my dad. Honestly, I really just wanted God to heal me. My dad and I began to talk. It was very painful for him and I. We really saw things differently. However, the abuse took place for years and so did the talks and healing. I had to learn to listen to him and his version of things. As years went on he opened up and I learned about his childhood and past. He was not using that as an excuse but I understood he raised his kids just like he was raised. My dad did say he was sorry and so did I. God has done amazing things in my life through forgiveness.
What I regret is that I had so much bitterness and unforgiveness toward my family I took it out on people.I was rude, hateful, and intimidating. My way of keeping people from hurting me. I loved God and wanted to share Jesus but I had no compassion. See I forgave my dad for one thing but not everything. I realized by holding on to my past it was keeping me from my destiny.
Now I can say without a doubt I have forgiven and been forgiven. I really love people. I choose to let God protect me instead of put up walls. Now I want to make choices that effect the Kingdom of God.
Thank You Suzie and Michelle for sharing this story. Amazing testimony.
I have been reading The Unburdened Heart as I journey thru healing from several years of childhood sexual abuse by my dad. I love this book and have found so much to hold onto. I shared it with my counselor, and she is getting a copy too. I felt unable to tell anyone as a child, so I told no one of my abuse until I was 20. When I told my my mom, I learned she suspected but did nothing, adding hurt to hurt for me. I have been able to contain my past to have a superficial relationship still with my parents while protecting my own daughter. I have just begun the journey to confront him, and I am seeing God do work in ways I couldn’t imagine. I am waiting and praying for God’s timing and strength to talk in private with my dad. We have never discussed what he did to me, and honestly I thought he would end our relationship before admitting it. Instead, he read a letter I mailed my mom and acknowledged to her what he did. He wants to talk to me about it and told her he regrets it. God at work for sure! If He can do that, He certainly can prepare my heart and give me courage for that conversation to come.