When my husband and I packed up our bags for our honeymoon, we didn’t know we were bringing along a few invisible, but very toxic bags from our past. And I had the dubious distinction of having not only “mother issues,” but also “father issues” when we got married. So my husband was saddled with a baggage upcharge to boot!
Please here me say: I’m not here to blame my parents or even give all the details of my toxic baggage. But suffice it to say, I had some serious emotional work to do when I said, “I do.”
Now some of my baggage was simply ineffective or unhealthy patterns of relating that I learned from my parents, who probably learned those same patterns from their parents and so on and so on. But some of my baggage was rooted in resentments towards them.
Unfortunately, these resentments were like landmines that my husband couldn’t seem to avoid. He might be asking me a simple question that reminded me of something my father had said or done, and boom, the issue blew up in my husband’s face.
What made this situation worse was that I didn’t know my anger was really with my father and not with my husband. In effect, and without realizing it, I transferred my bitterness toward my father (and sometimes mother) into my husband’s account!
Years into our marriage, I began to lead women’s recovery groups. Often these groups looked at the hurts of the past and sought to process through the pain. I finally realized, as a leader, that I had a lot of my own pain to process through regarding my parents. That’s when I began the process of forgiving my parents and letting those resentments go.
Not only did this improve my relationship with my parents. But forgiving them had the added bonus of emotionally releasing my husband from many of the resentments that I held against him.
In time, it changed the way I viewed my parents and my husband. It gave me the ability to have realistic expectations of them for probably the first time in my life. It gave me the ability to communicate my feelings and boundaries to them with calmness and gentleness. And surprisingly, it changed, for the better, the way my parents and my husband related to me.
So . . .
Do you have emotional work to do regarding your parents or family members?
Do you have someone else who has hurt you deeply in your past and you haven’t forgiven them yet?
Then, don’t let another day go by without committing yourself to the cleansing and healing power of forgiveness!
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13 (NLT)