My parents weren’t perfect. They loved us deeply and were doing the best they could, but they didn’t always make the best decisions—and there have been times in my life when I found myself repeating the mistakes they made.
I needed to make peace with their faults and shortcomings, and I had to use that knowledge to keep myself from failing in the same way they failed.
That’s a significant challenge because people have a hard time admitting their parents weren’t perfect. “I really can’t blame my mom,” someone will say in a counseling session. “She was a wonderful mother. It’s really all my fault.”
Rarely is that statement true, because our parents influence us more than anyone else.
When there are things your family did right, remember those things and brag about them to your friends. But don’t be afraid to acknowledge where your parents messed up—then forgive your parents for being human.
Forgive them for the ways they hurt you.
Forgive them for the times you felt ignored, slighted, or disrespected.
Forgive them for the days that they were too distracted by their own problems to meet your needs.
Forgive them for the times they embarrassed you in front of your friends.
Forgive them for the times that they leaned on you instead of letting you lean on them.
Forgive for the moments they weren’t there for you, when they forgot to pick you up from school or didn’t make it to your big recital.
Forgive them for the devastating things, like abandonment, abuse, and addiction.
Jesus put it another way. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. . . . Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:27–28, 31).
When we refuse to forgive, that past offense becomes an invisible cord connecting us to the person who did us wrong. It attaches us to that pain. It keeps us plugged in to the bitterness and anger and resentful feelings.
We must cut that cord or we’ll never be free. We’ll never more forward.
With forgiveness, we empty the hurt pockets in our lives. We release judgment. We bring all accounts back to zero. We offer it unconditionally, without worrying about remorse or responsibility.
Regardless of the offense, the only thing we can control is our part in offering forgiveness. So forgive your parents. Say their names aloud and pray blessings over them, like Jesus commanded. Do it every day if you have to.
This kind of forgiveness is the secret to emotional and spiritual freedom, and the only way to truly make peace with your past.