“You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.”(Psalm 86:5, NIV)
Mary grew up with an alcoholic father. “When he wasn’t drinking, he was a good father. But as I got older, the times when he was sober became fewer.”
By the time Mary graduated from high school, her father was rarely sober. “He wasn’t physically abusive. He’d just yell and carry on about everything. Anything could set him off,” Mary explains.
For years, Mary struggled with the concept of forgiveness. Then one day, she was having dinner with her friend Shannon when the topic came up. Because Shannon was a dear friend that she trusted not to gossip, Mary shared her past with her.
“He’s not a bad person. He’d like to see his grandkids. I know I’m supposed to forgive and forget. I just don’t want him to damage my kids the way he damaged me and my siblings.”
Shannon listened as Mary shared her heart. Then she said, “We’re not commanded to automatically forget someone’s actions.
“As children of God, we are called to forgive. But it’s also wise to be aware of how your father affected you and how he might affect your children. You can set boundaries to protect yourself and your kids, such as not visiting your dad when he’s drunk. It’s healthy to set loving limits in your relationships.”
God, help me to set healthy boundaries with the people I’ve forgiven. I want to be kind, but I also know You don’t want me to be a doormat. Help me to stand up for myself and shine Your love at the same time. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.
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