About seven years ago, my aunt stole half the inheritance from my family. She did it during the week after my dad died, while my grandfather lay dying from cancer. She came on a Sunday to got the paperwork that would allow her rights to his bank accounts and emptied them in our week of grief so that when he died there was less for the lawyers to divide up.
We were shocked and deeply hurt by the betrayal and could not figure out how to get past it to begin talking again as families should. My saving grace was that the year before dad passed, my pastor had preached a message instructing the church to not enter into lawsuits with family. I remembered that and counseled my brothers against it. They listened. We were not in need for the money, my mom’s church helped her generously to get back on her feet, my brothers and I were doing okay financially. God was meeting our needs. But the shock and hurt of what she had done lingered on.
In 2008 I had my first baby, a girl. In 2009 my great aunt (sister to grandfather who passed away) asked my mom to take her to the family reunion, it would be her last since she was in her 90′s and getting very frail. I knew mom would have to face my aunt and told her I’d come home to support. Sometimes a baby can change things and she did.
We were able to face her with hugs and smiles. She too seemed puzzled as to get past this rift and glad for a chance to reunite. She loved my little girl and we had an enjoyable day together.
In the following 3 years I’ve found forgiveness to be a continued effort. When I go home do I let her know I’ll be there? She always wants to come visit. Every time I have to steel myself for the visit but when she’s there we fall back into our old pattern of greetings. I think even when I feel over it the devil can still bring back the memory of hurt and disappointment. I think that’s why I relate to this post as “The Practice of Forgiveness”. I really does take continual effort to forget the past and move forward. Maybe it becomes easier over time.