Be Gracious and Honorable
Forgive yourself and others and you will find peace.
Forgiving those who have hurt us is not an easy task; clouded by anger and resentment we become bitter and begin shielding our hearts. It is in the act of forgiving that we are closet to God.
This is the Tale of Two Sisters
There were two sisters who were seven years apart; Tina and Dana. When Dana was born Tina was excited to have a baby sister whom she could love and play with. During their childhood years they shared the same bedroom where they would sing, dance, laugh and pretend play. Tina wiped Dana's tears, cleaned up her scrapes, taught her to ride a bike and how to swim. Life was simple and good and they were as close as two sisters should be.
During that time a baby brother arrived. Dana was still a baby herself at three years of age and she not at all happy to share the attention. One day when guests arrived to visit the baby, bearing gifts, Dana went into her room and in a fit of jealousy emptied out all the dressers.
Tina loved her new brother and she dotted on him. She was torn between her two siblings. Their mother worked nights and Tina often had to fill in as a mother to her younger siblings.
As time passed Dana found it difficult to sleep at night, fearing the dark, even though she had Tina in the bed next to her and a small night light illuminating the bedroom.
In the wee hours after everyone was long asleep, she would call for her sister to sleep with her. Sometimes Tina would crawl into the small twin bed with her and other times Tina would refuse. Why she refused is hard to say she herself was a child and sometimes selfish. On those nights Dana would call for her mother to come. Her mother tired from her own work would sometimes spank her for waking up the household.
When Tina became a mother herself her guilt over this caused her great sorrow and she shared her regret with her sister. How could she have known what her selfishness did to her sister? They grew older and Tina made sure to attend all of Dana's school events; teacher interviews, school performances, sporting events. You see their parents were immigrants and did not have a command of the English language so it fell on Tina to translate and fill in when necessary. She didn't mind though she loved her sister.
Eventually, Tina went off to high school and Dana and Mark, their brother, remained in grade school. Dana and Mark were close in age so they became good friends. The two sisters grew apart as their lives took separate paths. Tina graduated from high school and entered college while Dana entered high school. During those years both girls met the men that they would later marry.
Dana went off to University where she studied to become a teacher. Tina in the interim married and had her first child. Dana was excited to have a nephew and she visited her sister often. She too graduated and married. In the early years of Dana's career Tina again attended all of her sister's school events. This time Dana was the one orchestrating the extra curricular activities for her students. She was an exceptional teacher and Tina was sure to let everyone know this. Dana on the other hand grew more resentful toward her sister's absence in her life.
Their families expanded. Tina had two more children and Dana gave birth to two beautiful daughters. Their careers became more demanding and they ventured off to start businesses of their own; things between them grew strained. While Tina's business flourished Dana's didn't. Dana grew more resentful. Tina never understood why. Dana had continued her education part time and received her masters in education, She became a vice principal. Tina continued to sing her sister's praises.
Over the last thirty years they have shifted between moments of closeness and distance. The road has been bumpy for them to be certain. Last year Dana was diagnosed with breast cancer and Tina rallied to her side wanting to extend her help to her sister. In an act of love she gathered a group of seven women together to participate in the 60 Km walk to end breast cancer. During the walk Tina prayed for God's help, each step after the first twenty kilometers was torment.
The day of Dana's surgery Tina sat in the waiting room with her own daughter and Dana's husband for six hours praying until she ran out of words that the cancer in her sister's body was not the "BAD ONE". Thankfully Dana's cancer was caught early and she required radiation and not chemotherapy.
Even during her illness Dana kept her sister at arms length. Tina continued to call her periodically but Dana rarely picked up the phone to call her sister.
Several weeks ago Tina called her sister to discuss the rift between Dana and their brother. Although Tina had tried to remain neutral she felt compelled to intervene as it was causing their parents great pain. Dana was also using the children as pawns in her argument with her brother. The conversation did not go well and Dana told her sister to stay out of her business. Tina told her that it was her business. She was after all her sister and she should be able to tell her how she felt. That was when Dana handed out her final blow; telling her sister that she had always been a sister in title only. Tina was devastated. How could her sister say such a horrible thing to her?
For weeks she anguished over this; she had reached out to her sister in so many ways. She was hurt and angry. She asked God for guidance. How could anyone treat a family member this way? What could she do?
Then the answer came. Forgive. Forgive her for the things she said and the omissions she made and then let her go. We cannot force anyone, even our family member to love us or to want us in their lives. It is in forgiveness that we find our own peace.
So that was what Tina did, she said a prayer of forgiveness and she asked God to bless her sister and then she let her go. If one day she returns, Tina will open her arms and welcome her back.
Did God not tell us to turn the other cheek?
God entrusted Tina to be her sister's keeper long ago; she could never forsake that trust.