Gayla Grace on the price of forgiveness

The Price of Forgiveness

Gayla Grace on the price of forgiveness

After my first marriage ended, I held onto unforgiveness. I had been mistreated and I justified my actions from a wounded soul. I didn’t want to consider how my unforgiveness contributed to my lack of peace and affected my daily walk with others and with the Lord.

Communication with my ex-husband was strained. Co-parenting seemed impossible. One day I realized how I contributed to the difficulty with my unforgiveness.

Wounded from hurtful words from our stepchild or misunderstood by our spouse, we hang onto unforgiveness, hindering our relationships. We feel justified because we’ve been wronged. As a result, tension in our home co-exists with every interaction.

The price of unforgiveness is a burden of resentment, a poison of bitterness, and strained relationships. The price of forgiveness is love, freedom, and peace.

Why do we choose poison over freedom?

Because when we’ve been wronged, forgiveness is hard. It doesn’t happen naturally. We have to seek the Lord’s help and make an intentional choice to go against our human nature and forgive.

Christ paid a huge price so we could experience forgiveness. His death on the cross is a powerful reminder of the sacrifice He offered us. But even Christ struggled with doing what the Father asked of him. Matthew 26:39 says, “He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Some days we’d rather say, “Not your will but mine.” My will includes justifying my hurt and wallowing in my wound. My will seeks to take care of myself instead of considering others’ needs. Unfortunately, my will also leads to a life of heartache and disappointment.

Our pastor’s words recently spoke to my heart, “Unforgiveness is demanding that other people be perfect, and that’s a standard You can’t meet!” If I fail to forgive my stepson for an imperfect action, I’m expecting he’ll never have to forgive me for a wrong. I make imperfect choices every day. Why, then, do I hold onto unforgiveness?

Forgiveness provides the key to unlock the tension in stepfamily relationships. We’re called to forgive, even when it’s not our fault.

It’s not easy, but

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Have you held onto unforgiveness or experienced the peace that comes from forgiving? Let’s talk in the comments.

Dare to Love in Your Stepfamily

Words from the voice on the radio played over in my head, piercing my heart. “We must dare to love those who hurt us.” The hurt from my gaping wound lay open. A friend I thought I could trust had let me down. I didn’t want to consider that I should dare to love her again.

Dare to Love in Your Stepfamily

I recognized the feeling from another time. Hurt by words of one of my stepchildren, I found it easier to guard my heart than make myself vulnerable to love again. I learned that a heart with walls around it, however, never experiences joy or peace.

With the Lord’s help, I reached out to my friend and offered forgiveness. Recognizing God’s grace of my own sin softened my heart toward my friend.

God’s power overcomes our weaknesses. We can dare to love again.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness and Your Stepfamily

As we head into the Easter week-end, I can’t help but think about forgiveness. I’m forever grateful for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that offers forgiveness of sin.

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But sometimes forgiveness and how to apply forgiveness in our stepfamilies can be misunderstood.  At our stepmom retreat this past week-end, Laura Petherbridge spoke on forgiveness and gave some wonderful nuggets on what forgiveness is and what it isn’t.  These bullets are taken from her handout.

What forgiveness is:

  • A choice
  • An ongoing process
  • Admitting “I was wounded”
  • Getting healing, help and support
  • Giving the person over to God
  • Refusing to dredge up the past
  • Choosing not to seek revenge
  • Freedom from the pain

What forgiveness isn’t:

  • A feeling
  • A one-time event
  • Denying the event
  • Saying it wasn’t wrong
  • Trusting the person again
  • Excusing from the responsibility
  • Intentional punishment
  • Forgetting the offender

Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. It must be done repeatedly, perhaps even several times a day.

Forgiveness means we let the offense go and give it to God. But if we’ve been badly wounded, it’s not likely we will forget it. I believe God gave us a memory for a purpose–to protect ourselves and not fall prey to a vulnerable situation again.

If we choose to forgive our ex-spouse because we know it’s the right thing to do, that doesn’t mean we automatically trust him. Trust must be earned with someone’s who’s repentant about what they’ve done.

Forgiveness allows us to be honest with our feelings. If we’ve been hurt by our stepchild, we don’t act as if nothing’s happened. We acknowledge our feelings and work through our wounds as part of the forgiveness process.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean we excuse a person from their part of the interaction, but it does mean we choose to put it in the past and leave it in the past.

There’s a price to pay for the choices we make. The price of unforgiveness is a burden of resentment, a poison of bitterness, and strained relationships. The price of forgiveness is love, freedom, and peace.

Christ paid a huge price so we could experience forgiveness. His death on the cross is a powerful reminder of the sacrifice He offered us. But even Christ struggled with doing what the Father asked of him. Matthew 26:39 says, “He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Some days we’d rather say, “Not your will but mine.” My will includes justifying my hurt and wallowing in my wound. My will seeks to take care of myself instead of considering others’ needs. Unfortunately, my will also leads to a life of heartache and disappointment.

Our pastor’s words recently spoke to my heart, “Unforgiveness is demanding that other people be perfect, and that’s a standard You can’t meet!” If I fail to forgive my stepson for an imperfect action, I’m expecting he’ll never have to forgive me for a wrong. I make imperfect choices every day. Why, then, do I hold onto unforgiveness?

Forgiveness provides the key to unlock the tension in stepfamily relationships. We’re called to forgive, even when it’s not our fault. It’s not easy, but when we choose to be obedient to the call,we experience peace and joy in our relationships.

If you’re struggling with forgiveness, I encourage you to purchase Laura’s DVD on forgiveness. It can be found at her bookstore here.

What have you learned about forgiveness in your stepfamily? Can you share how you’ve seen your stepfamily changed through the act of forgiveness? I’d love to hear your comments.

Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on spiritual growth, divorce prevention, divorce recovery and stepfamilies. She is a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series and the co-author of The Smart Stepmom and  When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce. She has a new book to be released May 1st, 101 Tips for the  Smart Stepmom.   Laura’s website is www.The SmartStepmom.com.

Picture By africa

 

 

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Eight Steps to Easing Stepfamily Stress at the Holidays

Stepfamily holidays are complicated. And stressful, right? How do you ease holiday step stress? There are no easy answers, but there are a few things you can do to help make your h-o-l-i-d-a-y-s  more enjoyable.

stepfamily holiday

H – Help someone. Take the focus off yourself and your difficult stepfamily circumstances and offer help to someone in need. Ring bells for Salvation Army or buy a gift for an underprivileged child. There are dozens of ways to help others.

O –  Offer grace and forgiveness often. The holiday season creates additional stress for your stepchildren too. If your stepchild shoots an angry look your way, be quick to forgive and press on.

L – Let go of perfection. Don’t expect your holiday season to go perfectly; recognize there will be bumps along the way. And don’t sink into a pit when it happens–pick yourself up and start anew.

I – Ink in special days on your calendar. Plan date nights with your spouse. Go to coffee with a girlfriend. Take time to take care of YOU.

D – Delegate chores to others. If you have a house full of company coming, hire a cleaning person. If you’re hosting a party, ask others to help with food. Don’t take on all the tasks yourself and end up overwhelmed.

A – Act on your gut. If you sense a meltdown coming on from your stepchild, do something to divert it. If you’re too exhausted to attend the neighborhood Christmas party, don’t go. Use your gut instinct to make your days go smoother.

Y – Yak to a supportive friend or another stepparent. Don’t hold your emotions in or let them all out by exploding. Talk through your struggles with someone who cares.

S – Simplify.  Decorate with a few items instead of several dozen. Bake one or two special treats instead of a counter full. Shop online to avoid the grumps of the holiday rush. Enjoy the simple pleasures of the season.

It’s the beginning of the season. Commit to make it enjoyable and meaningful with a few intentional steps.

If you need a helpful resource, be sure to check out our e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace.

Pic By feel art

The Perfect Opportunity for Grace

“I’m failing my International Business class,” my stepson Payton relayed to me through tears. “It doesn’t matter how much I study, I don’t do well on Ms. Cantrell’s tests and I’m afraid it’s too late in the semester to pull my grade up to passing.”

As a 3rd year college student, Payton understands the consequences of failing a class at this stage of the game. Although he had a history of neglecting assignments in high school, he doesn’t want to fail and we’ve talked on several occasions about the importance of applying himself in his upper-level college courses.

“If you’ve done the best you can, there’s no point in berating yourself over it,” I said. “Sometimes we can’t foresee the difficulty of a class for us until it’s too late.”

A business major myself as a young college student, I went on to tell Payton my struggle in Accounting at the undergraduate level. I hated the subject and couldn’t grasp the concepts. But it was required to advance in my major and after making a “D” the first semester, I was forced to take the class again.

Payton was broken over his inability to pass the class. I immediately sensed his need for grace as he talked to me. There was no need for consequences as I knew the natural consequences of his actions would be enough.

In my early years of stepparenting, I didn’t offer grace freely enough to my stepchildren. When they did wrong, it was easier to harbor anger and build up resentment toward them. Forgiveness and grace didn’t flow easily.

But I’ve learned that the person who suffers the most from that unforgiving spirit is me. My stepchildren don’t see the bitter feelings I’m carrying around or sense its strangling hold on my spirit. They only see the fallout of my feelings through angry words or inappropriate behavior.

I love the acronym that illustrates God’s grace for us: God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. As we celebrated Easter this past Sunday, I was reminded of God’s sacrifice for us. His grace is more than we can ever comprehend. And although we’ll never be asked to illustrate that kind of grace, we are given the opportunity to offer grace every day to those living around us – our imperfect stepchildren who need it more than we realize.

How can you illustrate grace today?

Related Posts:

Healthy Stepparenting: Don’t Keep Score

Finding the Beauty of God’s Grace in Your Stepfamily

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

What’s stressing you today? Have the little things of life become big things because you’re having trouble letting go? Is your stepchild relationship experiencing a small leak that’s about to lead to a blowout?

How we react to what happens around us determines a hostile or peaceful outcome. If my stepson shoots a glaring look my way, I can choose to ignore it or I can let it ruin my day. If my stepdaughter challenges my thinking on something I believe in, I can spout off a defensive remark or I can stand firm in my position while shrugging my shoulders.

There are a multitude of things that happen every day in our stepfamily relationships that are not worth getting stressed about. When we identify which battles we want to fight, and leave the rest alone, we find more serentiy for our journey. 

My good friend and stepfamily authority, Ron L. Deal, says his whole perspective on life changed after he lost his son from a brief illness. He says he doesn’t stress anymore about a spilled drink in the living room or whether every paper gets put in the recycling bin. Life is simply too short to spend our days bothered over trivial matters.

In his book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all small stuff, Dr. Richard Carlson says he plays a game with himself called the “time warp.” He says, “I made it up in response to my consistent, erroneous belief that what I was all worked up about was really important. To play “time warp,” all you have to do is imagine that whatever circumstance you are dealing with isn’t happening right now but a year from now. Then simply ask yourself, ‘Is this situation really as important as I’m making it out to be? Will this matter a year from now?’ Once in a great while it may be — but a vast majority of the time, it simply isn’t.”

So, next time your stepchild leaves his laundry in the washing machine and goes to school, leaving it for you to finish, remind yourself that it won’t matter a year from now. That doesn’t mean you don’t address the issue when he comes in from school and seek to correct it from happening again, but it does mean you choose not to stew over it the rest of the day.

Are you sweating the small stuff in your stepfamily relationships?

Related Posts:

Let Go of the Guilt

Stepfamily Trap: The Danger of Denying our Feelings

Sick of Stepparenting?