Reflection by Scott Stoner
Our families know us better than anyone. All of our quirks and foibles are well-known to those with whom we are most closely connected. It is in our families that our vulnerabilities are most visible, and therein lies both the greatest opportunities and the greatest challenges to practice love and forgiveness.
If we slightly modify the quote from William Blake, it captures the paradox of family life: it is easier to forgive a stranger than it is to forgive a family member. Why is this? Perhaps because we have much higher expectations of how family members should act and how they should treat us. Our families are also where we bring our deepest emotional needs, and when those needs are not met we can feel hurt and resentful.
When we have experienced hurt within our families, we really only have two choices of how to respond. We can talk it out, or we can act it out. If we don’t talk it out, most likely we will act it out. For example, when two family members choose not to speak to each other, they literally are acting out their hurt rather than talking it out.
To practice forgiveness within our families, we need to be willing to be vulnerable enough to take the risk to talk things out, even when it seems easier to act it out by avoiding the hard conversations. Ephesians 4:15 says, “But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” The words “we must grow up” speak of the spiritual and emotional maturity it takes if we want to commit to and practice forgiveness within our families.
Making It Personal: What is your response to the William Blake quote? Do you think this applies to forgiveness within families? What do you think of the idea that when it comes to hurt within our families, we have the choice to either talk it out or act it out?
Follow along with us this Lent season with our daily devotional and engage in discussion in our closed facebook group moderated by The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner & The Rev. Jan Kwiatowski.
In this group, participants will have a chance to share their responses to the prompts in the daily readings, and also the chance to receive additional material for reflection.