Bible Verse: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:16-19

I still don’t remember exactly what she said but it made me angrier than I have ever been in my life. You know when you get so mad you can’t talk or even think straight. The overwhelming fury took over every fiber of my being. All I remember is my mom acted inappropriately toward my kids and I was not going to let her hurt them the way she had hurt me.

The only words I could muster to my family were, “Get in the car right now and don’t talk.”

I clutched the steering wheel of my car and stared straight ahead. I knew if I looked at my wife or kids they would think I was mad at them because I was mad at the whole world. I looked down at my hands and noticed my knuckles were actually white. I was punishing the steering wheel for my mom’s actions. After about 90 minutes my hands began to ache. After 2 hours I was finally able to put together a coherent sentence.

What came out of my mouth were the words, “Never again.”

That day, I decided my mom would never have this kind of negative influence on me again. I was determined to figure out what it meant to forgive so that this scene never repeated itself. It was bad for me, bad for my wife and bad for my kids.

In the process, I had to give up the expectation that I could change my mom. It was likely she was going to be difficult for the rest of her life, so my response could no longer be based on her actions. I found myself saying in prayer, “I do not expect her to make up for what she has done,” since this is how Jesus worked with me.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul said, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

When I came to know Jesus, He didn’t say to me, “As soon as you make up for the bad things you have done, we can have a relationship.” Instead, He created a new starting point. He held no grudges. He had no list of requirements. He had already forgiven me, and we could now work on my life as friends. In the same way, forgiving mom meant dropping my expectations that she would ever act better.

I was tempted to never see my parents again based on the way they had treated my kids. If I held on to bitterness I could have easily justified that decision. As I prayed, however, the thought haunted me, how can I tell my kids family is important if I have no relationship with my parents?

My solution was to spend limited time with my parents when my kids were young. We discovered that their threshold was about 90 minutes before the stress rose and the unhealthy behaviour began. If we engaged in 60-minute visits, it worked. It was shallow, but it worked. The 60-minute threshold didn’t require my parents to change while it protected my family from the reactions that would have ruined the relationship.

I would love to tell you that my relationship with my parents is completely healed but … it is still a work in progress. All I can tell you is I am calmer around them since I changed my expectations.

Jesus, thank you that I didn’t have to make up for all my mistakes before I could trust you for my salvation. Help me to forgive others even if they never change.

— Bill Farrel, author of 7 Simple Skills for Every Man.

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