This picture commemorates more than just the night before my sister’s wedding. It commemorates mistakes, forgiveness, grace and relationships that refuse to quit.
I am the oldest of all my siblings, contrary to the height differential. I have vivid memories of growing up together, playing in the pool and upgrading our video game console – selling all accessories and games from the previous generation and starting all over with our game collection. I also have memories that I’m not proud of. Memories of when I failed in my responsibilities as the oldest brother.
Grace and Forgiveness for Rotten Kids
In 2008 I began to watch family movies from our childhood. I saw how I had treated my siblings, John in particular, and was ashamed of my behavior. John (he’s the tallest in the picture) is the wildest of our group and that wild streak is the antithesis of my personality. Our personality differences led to explosive exchanges over the years that resulted in my treating John with great cruelty. Yes, I was just a kid, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t hurt my brother. Much of what makes the greatest impact on our lives happens during childhood. I don’t know what John internalized, but looking back, I saw that I needed to make amends.
I apologized to John over the phone and with great grace and understanding, he forgave me. This moment was a defining one because I realized that I didn’t have to let my past affect my future relationships with my siblings.
Growing up, I didn’t realize two things: it’s okay to be different and it is a blessing to have siblings. My misunderstanding led to a wasted opportunity to provide the leadership that my siblings could receive only from me.
I regret many things in my teenage years that I will never get to relive. I am grateful that my siblings still accept me as a leader in our family… and I will make the most of it.
Stop Justifying and Start Making Crappy Relationships Right
Inability to see our own faults, even when they are most visible to others, is not uncommon. No matter the circumstance, all of us are inclined to justify our feelings, thoughts and behavior. It isn’t until the end of the episode that we are able to look back, reflect and understand our shortcomings. In many cases, it’s too late to make the situation right, but does that mean we can’t make the relationship right?
I am not naive, I know that you may read my story and compare your situation to mine. “That’s nothing compared to what my sibling did to me” or “You couldn’t begin to understand why I can’t reconcile with my siblings.” I know wrongs happen outside the family as well. I guess what I’m trying to say is this… the past does not have to define you or your future relationships. If you are the one who wronged another or you were wronged, each of us is responsible for how we treat others going forward.
Whether you believe it or not, today you have an opportunity to right a past wrong. If you are the offender, apologize even if it will not be accepted. If you have been offended, forgive even if you’ve never received an apology.
One Question for You to Comment On
How will you make the most of today’s opportunity to right a past wrong?