There are certain times of the year that I reflect more on the act of forgiveness. Easter is one of those times because of the death of Jesus on the cross on my behalf. That unselfish act brings me salvation, and forgiveness of all my sins, as well as anyone else who believes in Him. The other time of the year I tend to reflect more about forgiveness is Christmas time. I think it is because it is a time to celebrate Jesus's birth, and the reason he was born. Forgiveness is difficult for me. I tend to hold grudges and always hold onto those "hurts" in case I need to use them as ammunition against someone. I hate confrontation so I won't say anything about how I am feeling, I just clam up and become distant and withdrawn. So it constantly amazes me how Jesus can die on a cross for any of us. We don't deserve it but He did it out of love.
At the height of our kid's addiction I didn't have any relationship with them. That was heartbreaking for me. A wall went up around my heart to protect myself from the deep wounds I knew would come. The lies, stealing, manipulation, and pain from watching them slowly kill themselves was to much to take many days. But after they went into recovery and started working each step, I could see my child start to emerge from that darkness. The smiles, conversations, and hugs gradually returned. One of the 12 steps of recovery is making amends where the addict asks for forgiveness for how they have hurt you. It's a huge step in their recovery process because not everyone accepts their apology or grants forgiveness. But whenever forgiveness was asked of me, I always granted it wholeheartedly. I can't say it was always easy and not without a lot of effort to allow the hurt to be erased. The old saying of "forgive and forget" is harder to do than say. I also knew from going through my own recovery process that if I didn't forgive and let the hurt go, then I would be the one left feeling bitter and resentful. And I had enough negative feelings built up within the last few years to last a lifetime. I asked God to help me to forgive and move forward and He did. But another thing that came out of my recovery was for me to ask for forgiveness from my addicted child. WHAT! Yes, as I went through the 12 steps of recovery in Celebrate Recovery I had to ask for forgiveness from several people. One of those people was myself. I had to forgive myself for my mistakes, my enabling, codependency, and just ways I failed to see the obvious. I hid in denial of my kid's addiction way to long to protect myself. So I had to forgive myself for my failures. Then I had to ask my children to forgive me where I had failed them. Whether it was out of love, ignorance, or exhaustion, I made choices that allowed them to stay safely in their addiction instead of calling them out. I knew they were high, but I would just let them slide because I didn't want to confront them, pick a fight, or deal with the denial. And with grace and humbleness they accepted my apology and granted me forgiveness. We were rebuilding our broken relationships, mending the hurts, and opening up to be completely honest with each other. That openness has allowed our relationships to blossom into a strong and flourishing parent/child bond!
I love the family that I have now. It is strong, full of love, and full of forgiveness. We do Second chances, and thirds, fourths, and even 100th if need be, just as God does for us. It is good to lean on His example and learn how to forgive freely, and to be forgiven. That is my wish for any of you reading this, that you will not allow the bitterness of unforgiveness to plaque your heart. Take each step toward that full and complete life of love and joy. May God bless you, Jennifer