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.
My mother was incapacitated from a stroke, and when she passed away my sister and I found out that our brother has spent quite a lot of her money only to better himself. We were always a very close-knit family so this came as quite a shock to me. The amount he spent was astonishing, but the real hurt came from his betrayal of our mother and of us sisters. There were difficult years that ensued, nasty letters from him and his wife to me and my sister blaming us for a multitude of things, but the real ache came from losing my brother, someone whom I had adored, as he was ten years older than me.
I prayed about forgiveness, but it didn’t come easily. I would get a huge knot in my stomach whenever I went back home in fear of seeing him. We did meet on one occasion when I was visiting back home in at attempt to mend our relationship, but it was horrible, and I left feeling worse than I had before. Five years after my mom had passed, my daughter was engaged and I was praying to be led by God on whether it was the right thing to do to include my brother in the festive occasion. “Turn the other cheek,” “Love your neighbors” and “What would Jesus do?” were all running in my head, but I just couldn’t get a clear picture. Then I came across the passage in 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, the one I knew so well, but it came in a new light. The answer was clear: “Love endures all things.”
I had been taught growing up that love is reflected in love and will come back to you if you just keep loving. I invited him and asked him to escort me and my sister down the aisle. He accepted. His wife couldn’t attend the wedding, which I believe was a blessing, because the three of us siblings were able to be together and talk about wonderful family memories and start the healing process. It has been ten years since that wedding, and we have had other family life celebrations that he attended as well. We text and talk occasionally, always ending with “I love you.” I’m so grateful to have been able to put this behind me and forgive. It has benefited me and my family. God is love.