The niece of a family friend recently died of a drug overdose - such a tragedy for any family to deal with.  Even worse, she left behind four small children, an ex-husband in another state and an estranged relationship with her mother whom she hadn’t talked to in a while.  What will happen to those children?

I can’t seem to stop thinking about what the mother of this young woman must be going through right now.  There must be lots of guilt and “if onlys”. 

I know of too many people who have cut off ties with family members.  Granted, family can be the most difficult people to deal with.  We tolerate much more from them than we would with non-family friends.  But to remove them completely from our lives is not what God intends for us.

1Timothy 5:8 – “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  I believe this goes beyond a financial responsibility.  We also need to provide them with love.  (I’m not saying you have to be best friends.)

Of course, there are exceptions when abuse in any form dominates a relationship. Unfortunately, that’s not usually the case.  A fight over who got what when Grandma died or careless, hurtful words are usually the culprit of family estrangement.

Usually, family is the fortress for many - the people you can depend on regardless of how you fought at one time or maybe still do.  A true family is one that you know will always be there for you no matter what.  You would never discard them because they are your family.

I’ve often said that we should have that same attitude about our spouse.  Would you divorce your parents or your kids? (Of course, there may be times when you FEEL like you want to.)  We should have that same commitment to our spouse.

But if someone is willing to dispose of a family member, what chance do they have of staying with a spouse who offends them?  Not much.

Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

We all need to learn to forgive.  Unforgiveness is like taking poison and expecting it to kill the person you won’t forgive.  Not forgiving hurts us more than it hurts the person who has offended us. 

What about our spouses?  Do you harbor an unforgiveness against them that is affecting your relationship?  That poison of unforgiveness could destroy your marriage, showing up in other areas you may not be aware of that can lead to divorce if not dealt with.

Forgiveness is not always easy.  It takes time and practice.  Forgiveness is not forgetting, rather it is choosing to never bring the issue up again and working on loving the person who hurt you.  It is a conscious action that will reap many benefits for your health and welfare and that of your family and your spouse.


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