Have you ever heard the saying "You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family"? It's one of those enduring proverbs that make us all question: If we could really choose our extended family; would we in fact choose them?
Of course this type of question is fairly pointless, since we can't really select, or de-select for that matter, any of our relatives. Despite the fact that every family has a few nuts scattered throughout the generations, whether they be cashews or almonds, some families seem to have more than their fair share of nuts.
And I know what I'm talking about, especially when it relates to my very nutty extended family. You see over the last five months, several members of my extended family have been conducting a verbal assault against us. Between angry emails, threatening letters, slanderous gossip and stealing, several of them have been acting like crazy guests on a Jerry Springer episode.
While my immediate family usually avoids any type of involvement in these familial dramas, recently our lives have been very affected by our relative's various acts of jealousy, envy and deceit. While I have not overtly participated in any of these antics, I have regrettably allowed my emotions to be both affected and governed by their toxic sentiments.
Rather than controlling my anger, frustration and resentment towards these people over the last few months, I have been consumed with an overwhelming desire to retaliate.
However revenge is not only unfulfilling and futile, but it is also not what God would want me to do. Indeed if I allowed myself to be consumed by emotions such as these, I'd be placing a very firm barrier between myself and Him. While revenge can seem like an appealing response when I feel upset or hurt by others, in truth once I choose that path I am not only sinning against that person but also against God.
Lately my family and I have been talking a lot about forgiveness, not just as a kind of buzz word, but about how we can actively forgive those who really hurt us. It is certainly something I have struggled with for many years, how to turn the rhetoric of forgiveness into a reality.
In Matthew 6:14-15 it says that "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins".
This verse should make an incredible impact on our lives in terms of realising that an authentic relationship with God is tied in with us having a forgiving nature like God. It's something that at times even the world understands, in that the healing power of forgiveness allows us to break the shackles that hold us back from living a full life.