Wednesday, September 26, 2012

When Family Becomes Divided

Recently...as in 10 months ago...I spoke some less than charitable words at a family function.

(I'm not quite sure why holiday gatherings can bring out the worst in us...perhaps because we're focused on the wrong things during the holy, holiday season?)

Feeling horrible, after the fact, I made amends with the person I hurt.

I called and apologized to that family member. (They were quick to offer forgiveness.)

I apologized to my husband...family loyalties run deep...and one never wants to hear negative comments about their loved ones.

And, I apologized to God during Confession for my loose tongue.

All of Armella's Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren at her 90th Birthday Party.


But to this day...a different extended family member...hurt by the comment I made that fateful January day to the other family member...has refused to forgive me.

Multiple family gatherings, including Easter and a summer Family Reunion, have provided ample opportunities for the two of us to converse.  Yet, they will have nothing to do with me.  To the extent that if I enter the room and there is a way for them to exit to get away from me...they will.

While this is painful, I bear it.  It is a consequence of my actions last winter.  But what is even more painful, is seeing this same behavior (avoidance) exhibited toward my children. 

Children. 

Who know nothing about what happened.  What words were spoken.  What apologies were issued.  They are just the unfortunate recipients of this soul's misguided/misplaced anger.

So, what is a person to do?

I have been praying for this family member off and on.  And they have appeared to soften towards me...if even just a bit.  They at least communicated with me during the 90th Birthday Celebration.

So, I'm thinking that I need to increase my prayer life...my offerings of forgiveness...my requests for a softening of their heart...and maybe some prayers for myself to let this go. 

I've been searching for words to provide comfort and guidance during this painful time in my life...and I found some words that I didn't actually want to hear...but needed to hear.

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” 

~Mother Teresa




 

7 comments:

  1. Valerie, I love Blessed Teresa's wisdom, and especially that quote there. I think we've all had a situation similar to yours, where we have said something for which we later apologize, and yet the landscape has changed, sometimes for a long time. It is especially sad when the person who changes that landscape wasn't even a party to the initial situation.
    My experience is that prayer heals everything. Christ tells us to pray for our enemies, our tormentors, the people who are hurtful to us. You're doing the right thing. :) blessings.

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  2. Bless you this day for those sweet words spoken by Mother Teresa. I have a similar situation with some family members on my Hubby's side. It is awkward to be at things and have them ignore me. But, decided to take some advice I was giving to my daughter one day. We are told to forgive in the scriptures and ask to be forgiven. Once we have asked it is now on the other party to forgive.It becomes their problem to bare not ours. When that family member flees to get away from me...I promptly forgive myself and know that it is their problem to bare now. Then say a pray for them in my heart.
    By the way I was looking for a nice quote to send to my daughter today.

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  3. Gardenia and Jenny Lynn gave you some great advice. Every family experiences this. I wish there was a way to take away the pain you feel, but I cannot. Know that you have the power to turn it into something great and the devil wants you to turn it into something sour...as to let this situation turn bad again. But you are strong enough not to. Whenever you experience that sadness and pain, stop for a brief moment and say a prayer for that person. Then, at the end of the day, remember to offer it up for the souls of the departed. I don't mean to sound so contrite about it if I do. But God really hears the painful prayers of the suffering and it is through that suffering that you are drawn near to Him (sometimes faster than those who are not suffering yet want to be closer to HIm.) God bless, Valerie.

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  4. Wow, ladies...what beautiful thoughts you shared with me. Thank you, sincerely!

    Gardenia...you have such a gentle heart...oh to be living in your household. I loved your words..."we've apologized and yet the landscape has changed." YES!

    JennyLynn...You are such a kind heart and soul...always loving your children the best ways you can. I hope that your daughter can carry these words in heart to pull out when she needs them...b/c as you and I know...she will someday need them!

    Patty...no, you do not sound contrite at all! I love your suggestion to stop and say a prayer for that person when they come across my mind and to offer this suffering up for those faithfully departed!

    I have taken to carrying a pocket Rosary too...somehow, fingering those round beads reminds me to love Blessed Mother's child as much as she does...to keep in mind that this child, too, is a child of God!

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  5. You know, I was sitting with my children this morning and the thought crossed my mind...is there any way that this person (s) who are treating you in such a way, was unintentionally affected by the situation without you knowing it? Maybe you could call or write them and ask and if they were offended, one could apologize to them for that. I know that is a HUGE dose of humble pie. And at the same time, how they treat your children, well, just keep praying for him/her because THAT is just wrong. It appears that they are trying to hurt you through your children possibly. Prayers are powerful! Pray for that person daily. You will find peace. It isn't a switch we can turn on and off, but something that stirs and grows inside our souls. Hang in there!

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  6. I'm sorry for this situation, yet you have learned such a valuable lesson and those are the times that make us "richer". I do hope hearts continue to soften and the relationship will be repaired.
    I LOVE Mother Teresa's words!!!

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  7. Patty...the Holy Spirit sure is working on all of our hearts! We discussed this EXACT same suggestion at Women's Group this morning...that perhaps it is time for me to just let this person know that I hurt them...that I apologize for that...and that I am truly sorry.

    Lori, yes a life lesson for sure. Words can be so damaging...we should all think before we speak! Thanks for you kind words.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Your kind words are appreciated! As Mother Teresa said, "Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love."

Valerie