Editor’s Note: During Floris UMC’s February 2017 sermon series, “Unburdened,” we asked congregation members to anonymously share their stories of forgiveness. The following is one of those stories.

When it comes to family and money…I would have never thought that my family would choose money, but they did.

More than 20 years ago my aunt passed away without a will. My aunt had substantial wealth. She owned several homes in the area and lived on a big farm in Luray, Virginia. This was my mother’s sister. So, when mom was talking to us about the inheritance, she said it would split three ways between my mom, her sister and her brother’s kids (three of them). My uncle had passed away a few years earlier.

I thought everything would go easy and painlessly. Mom just thought to liquidate everything and split the money among the families. Real easy, right? Well, that is when my cousins spoke up and said they were promised this and that. There was nothing in writing; no proof of what they were saying was true. While our family and my uncle’s family agreed on liquidating everything, my aunt’s kids did not want that. They wanted the homes, the money, everything!

So, here come the lawyers and the court trails and the name callingangry letters back and forth. I have not seen my aunt or cousins in 20 years. My mother passed away in 2015 without ever seeing her sister (my aunt) again. I begged her to go and talk to her sister, but she kept saying that she was not ready. I would then say, “Well, when are you going to be ready, Mom?” Mom always preached to us growing up about staying together as a family, yet here she was just contradicting herself by not going and seeing her sister. I would tell her to not let it end like this. “You need to go and see her, go yell at here, talk or whatever.” The one thing she would do was talk to her on the phone, that was about as close as she got to seeing her. It was a very sad ending because they were so, so close at one time.

Today, my siblings want nothing to do with my cousins at all. They call them evil and the devil himselfthe name-calling goes on and on. They get upset with me for speaking to them, but I tell them, “You all need to let go of the hate and anger as I have. It will just continue to eat at you for years and years.” I would say, “You know they will have to answer for what they done to God.” I sure would not want to stand in front of the creator and telling him why I went against all he taught us.

They tore the family apart all for the love of money. As a Christian, I learned long ago to let go of the hate and anger. I have talked to them on the phone from time to time. The only real question I ever wanted to ask them was, “Why?” “Why did you choose money over family?” I have been a Christian for over 30 years, and I must admit that it took me a long time to forgive. I pray that someday they will want to meet with all of us and ask for our forgiveness. That would be really something! Do I think it will happen? No, I do not. But, it would be a wonderful thing to happen to bring what is left of our family together again.

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