twitter facebook stumble upon rss

'Tis the Season for Forgiveness

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This
Guest blogger Maggie Baumann, MA: With the holiday upon us, this is the time that extended family and friends join up to celebrate togetherness in their own unique and traditional ways. Thoughts about joy, peace and love usually come to mind. However, family gatherings can be a source of stress for those who are still upset about negative past experiences. Their holiday thoughts may be more focused on sadness, anger and frustration. For them, "togetherness" is influenced by grievances from the past.

family christmas
You know what I am talking about. Brother John (who's 42 years old) has not talked to his younger brother, Lewis, since last holiday season, when they were "forced" to celebrate together. The reason they aren't talking has something to do with a fight they had three years ago, when Lewis borrowed money from John and never paid it back.

Family (and friend) squabbles can take many forms. Jealousy, rage, invalidation and hurt feelings can all be sources, and addictions and past traumas can also come into play when people cut each other from their lives. When fights turn into an emotional break between two people, usually there is a standoff as to who will be the first to forgive and let go.

Let me say first that someone who has experienced a trauma like physical or sexual abuse from a close family member or friend may need the distance from that person for their safety. And in that case, the process of forgiveness may take years -- if it's attained at all. People in these situations can usually heal from these traumas with the help of a professional therapist, however.

What I am really talking about in this post is the ridiculous squabbles between family and friends that turn into the fight of the century, and no one is going to back down and talk -- or even try to initiate the process of forgiveness. This sounds really silly, but decades ago, one of my brothers (who was 11 at the time) got mad at one of my younger brothers (who was 7 at the time) and did not speak to him again for years. He completely ignored him, and no one in our family knew what my 7-year-old brother had done to make my 11-year-old brother so mad. We had no idea what the fight was about.

Of course, that's the time when healthy parents should have come in and helped resolve the problem, but my dad had died a few years prior and my mom didn't take any action until years later, when she finally told my brother who was mad, "Stop it and be nice." To me, this fight was absurd. What could a 7-year-old kid have done that was so bad his 11-year-old brother gave him the silent treatment for a couple of years?

My point is, we all get angry sometimes when we are not treated properly by our loved ones. Fights do emerge. What I've learned is, it's easier to stay mad at a person than it is to forgive. But forgiveness is a gift to yourself. Once you reach out to someone you've been holding a grudge against, once you truly forgive, you no longer carry inside of you the burden and side effects of the injury. You are healthier physically and emotionally. Forgiveness is healing, even if the person you forgive doesn't reciprocate with acceptance of your noble act (which can happen sometimes).

To forgive, you need to change your thoughts, feelings and actions toward the person who has hurt you. Forgiveness takes courage, empathy and compassion toward the offender. If you attempt this act and still feel resentment and anger, then you haven't completed the whole process of forgiveness. It may take some time. Forgiveness is not like turning a light switch on and off. It's a process, and it's not easy -- but it's so rewarding when forgiveness is real. It allows you to move on in life without the past holding you back. Freedom! You can only hope that when you ask for forgiveness, the recipient will accept the amazing gesture and the two of you will come back together.

Who do you need to forgive this holiday season? Who's that one person you've stayed mad at all these years? Now's the time to change the past by offering your forgiveness. This one act can change the course of your life and relationships, giving you more love, health and happiness. Take the challenge and start the forgiveness process with that one person you have in your mind right now.

Cheers to healthier relationships!

next: 'Kick a Ginger' Christmas Card?
1 comments so far | Post a comment now
GRE test preparation January 1, 2011, 12:08 AM

Hi there I am keeping getting a trouble browsing your web site, I am having 403 errors extremely regularly, I’m not way too certain why however if I refresh the page it comes fine.

Back to top >>