I was stressed about the funeral. Not because I wanted everything to go smoothly or because I was afraid I would cry. I was worried that old family quarrels would be brought up and that everyone would get into a huge fight.

Thank the Lord, it didn’t and we didn’t.

The viewing went fine, as did the funeral. The get together at my aunt and uncle’s afterwards was really fun. Everyone was drinking and talking and laughing. Telling old stories and quoting movies and doing Bill Murry impressions. I thought everything was going great and that maybe, just maybe, forgiveness had been given. I was wrong.

The short end of this is my uncle (my dad and aunt’s older brother) has screwed the other family memebers over in the past. He and my aunt really had no use for us. They had their country club and their winter house in Arizona and their Carmelite friends and my family and my aunt’s family were the poor, no-good-to-them side of the family.

After dinner on Thanksgiving, my aunt, mom and I were doing the dishes and cleaning the turkey carcass and the other two began talking about Tuesday. All of us had sensed a change in my other aunt. We’re hoping it is genuine. In a way (for those of you who have seen ‘Crash’), she reminds me of the DA’s wife who has everything she could want except for real friendship. And maybe she’s realized that the place she can find it is in the place she least expected. With us. I think that it’s wonderful, if it sticks. But then my aunt and mom talked about how she seemed to want to “let bygones by bygones” and just forget the past and move on. Without her and my uncle having to do any apologizing or making amends. Neither my mom or aunt seemed very willing to do that.

Now I realized that it is *very* easy for me to almost stand in judgment of them here. While I have felt the effects of the wrongs done to my parents (Lord knows I’ve *heard* about them all 21 years of my life!), I don’t particularly hold any resentment toward my aunt and uncle. Yes, they did some sleezy things. Yes, my family is stuck in the financial situation that they are partially because of my uncle’s actions. On a “moral level”, they should have known better. And I think that my aunt at least, is feeling some guilt over it.

But didn’t Jesus call us to forgive one another? Even when the other person doesn’t deserve it? Even when they don’t ask for it or apologize? If I’m wrong, please correct me. But I haven’t found the list of amendments in the Bible that says “You may withhold forgiveness in the following situations…” Because in the end, forgiveness isn’t really about the other person. It’s about us and the need to be freed from the bitterness, anger and hurt that that person caused. That doesn’t make the other person any less wrong or their actions any less painful. But if you choose to forgive them, something inside of you can begin to heal. And I *know* that my parents and aunt are bitter over what was done to them. I can hear it in their words and see it in their faces. Everything has been eating at them over all these years because they have not forgiven my aunt and uncle. They keep waiting for an apology that, truthfully, I don’t think will ever come. Unless my aunt and uncle have a big turn around and come to Christ or something, I don’t see them ever bending their pride that much. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope so. Because I also can’t see my parents and aunt bending *their* pride and forgiving them without an apology. And that makes me sad.

It makes me sad because I know that this bitterness has shaped them. I know that it’s rubbed off on me. I’m sure that it’s rubbed off on Joshua, my brother, and David, my cousin. And unless a miracle occurs, the process will continue on to Mikayla. Our choices effect others. My aunt and uncle’s choices effected the entire family. My parent’s and my aunt’s choices to hold onto their bitterness and not forgive are effecting us kids. If I chose not to forgive, it would effect the people around me and any children I may or may not have.

Forgiveness is an art. Not just anyone can forgive, especially when there is no apology. It takes a person of strong character and humility and honor. It takes someone who is willing to live as if the world is as it should be, to show it what it can be. Many of our heros are just that because of their willingness to forgive those who did wrong. Corrie ten Boom. Anne Frank. The Apostle Paul. Jesus. The Nazis, the Pharisees, the Romans, none of them asked for forgiveness. But each of our “heros” forgave anyway.

Forgiveness is an art. It takes strength to be the artist.