Tonight as I watched the news, they had a story on the genocide in Rwanda that happened years ago. Tribes fought against each other, pitting neighbor against neighbor and killing a huge number of people. I remember reading the accounts of the atrocities that occurred during that time and crying for the children that lost parents, the parents that lost children and whole families that were wiped off the planet. The story tonight was not one of vengence, but of forgiveness. Two of the people interviewed were named Emmanuel, one a killer, one a victim. Emmanuel the killer had killed Emmanuel the victim's family members. After a period of time, Emmanuel the killer asked his victims' families for forgiveness that they forgave him. There are courts all over the country where this happens on a weekly basis---forgiveness.
Now, I did not watch the news tonight expecting to hear a gospel message, but I did. It reminds me of a talk that I heard on Sunday in church about forgiveness and I remember thinking-I need to do better. A point was made during that talk that it is sometimes harder to forgive our family members than to forgive friends or even complete strangers. I often wondered why but I think I have my reason. Our families know us. They know us better than anyone and they know what can hurt us the deepest. Sometimes, in fits of anger or malice or thoughtlessness, they say or do something that digs at us to our soul. A stranger could be easily forgiven with a "well, they didn't know any better", but our family is different.
I'm not a great forgiver, far from it. I could hold a grudge for a while. Lately though, I have found that sometimes I need to be forgiven by the people that I need to forgive. It's hard, I'm working on it. Tonight it was brought home to me that the people I need to forgive have not done anything major-like kill my family. I'm holding a grudge and harboring bad feelings and those feelings aren't hurting anybody but me.