by Aleta Kay
It seems every day I talk to people who aren't getting along with one family member or another. Sometimes it's a parent and child; sometimes it's brothers and sisters; still others it's a husband and wife.
I know firsthand that no one can hurt you like the people who are supposed to love you. Grown children take their parents for granted; they steal from them, make horrible accusations, lie about other family members and create havoc in the family. There is no greater pain than emotional pain. But.....
Now I'm a firm believer in tough love. Sometimes you have to step back and let them suffer the consequences of their actions. Sometimes you have to sever the ties---for a while. But I'm also a firm believer in forgiveness. It doesn't matter if that person deserves your forgiveness. We don't deserve God's forgiveness but it is always available to us if we repent of our behavior and come to Him in humility and a willingness to change.
When a family member comes to you, heart in hand, asking for a chance to redeem themselves, love forgives--the Bible says seventy times seven. The number seven in the Bible is the number for completion. In other words, there is no limit to the number of times you should forgive. Maybe the person was sincere, maybe not. It is impossible for any of us to accurately be 100% sure of another's motives or sincerity. We know how we feel. We know what we think. We cannot see into the other person's soul or mind.
Yes, it is hard to open ourselves to more pain. It is one of the hardest things to do to continually leave yourself vulnerable. It is vitally important to healthy relationships. When we love unconditionally, time after time after time, it often weakens the wickedness in the other person. Genuine, unconditional love is hard to resist--and it is worth the price in the end.
One final thought: I do not believe in allowing adult children to take over your house, flaunt their attitudes, and be disrespectful. Your house: your rules. Non-compliance deserves harsh consequences. Okay, another anecdote. When our son was about fifteen years old I told him to do something (I don't remember what). He said he didn't think he should have to do that. I looked him in the eye and told him he had two choices: he could do as he was told or he could leave and find someplace else to live. I explained what the world is like out there and that I didn't want him to leave, but I was not going to tolerate his attitude. He decided to obey.
When he came home from college he thought he shouldn't have to cut grass, do dishes, or any other chores. He had a job so I gave him the guest rules: cook your own meals, do your own laundry, pay so much rent. He was allowed to partake of family dinner with us on Sundays. He grew into a responsible adult. We have a great relationship today.