I have not had a relationship with my parents for almost ten years. My father cheated my husband in some business dealings, and we ended up losing a great deal of money. We have since moved away and distanced ourselves from my family.
Citing the “Prodigal Son” story, my mother has made it clear that we must come to them in order for us to have a relationship. This is so she can tell people that “the prodigals have come home.”
As they grow older, I wonder what the right thing is to do. We have invited them to graduations, and they have either not replied, or stated that we need to “come home,” even though we were the ones who were lied to, deceived, and cheated.
What is my obligation as a Christian? I feel like I’ve forgive them. But it has always been drama with my family, and honestly, not having to deal with them has been good for my health and for my family. Should we just leave things as they are or “go home”?
The first thing that John stressed was that they don’t often give specific advice in counseling sessions: “What we try to do is deal with the heart condition, which will ultimately give you the leading on what should be done.”
Of course, that process starts with God. John pointed out that even though we often think we’ve forgiven someone, “it’s really important to actually have that moment of forgiveness where you forgive them for what they did, how you suffered under them, and how it made you feel.”
After we work through those prayers of forgiveness, we often experience a greater level of peace. Once we get to that place of peace, we can say, “Ok Lord. Now you tell me what to do. I’m turning this next step over to you.”
John pointed out that the main thing is clearing our heart so we can hear God’s voice: “Whenever people struggle with not knowing what to do, it’s not uncommon that we find that there are things still in them that they’re wrestling with on the forgiveness side.” This keeps us from having true peace.
We then have to turn our heart of conflict into a heart of ministry. John advised Katherine to ask, “How would God lead me to minister to these people to bless them?”
As we’ve talked about before on Hot Mess, forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have forgotten what they’ve done. We have to be wise in how we deal with the other person when they’ve hurt us.
But it’s amazing what God can do when we give things to Him. John has seen it in their counseling sessions at Rock House Center: “We have found repeatedly that mysteriously, people that our clients have forgiven, God sets up an opportunity for them to reconcile. ”
The most important thing we can do is get our heart in the right place so when that opportunity comes up, we’re ready to reconcile. Ultimately, there’s power in loving someone we’re in conflict with:
“When you communicate that you care about them and love them, God will use that to change them. Even though we can’t see it all the time, it’s not wasted. You may choose not to be with them, but that doesn’t mean you don’t care about them and love them.”
If you’d like to talk to John about something that makes you feel like a hot mess, tell us about it below. While we won’t be able to talk with everyone, our goal is to reach out to as many people as possible. If you’d like to see what Rock House Center is all about or even schedule an assessment, click here.