Did you grow up in a family that taught you the importance of loyalty, and that you are responsible for others?  In some families, protecting the “family name” was to trump all other ambitions.  Things like “blood is thicker than water” was the slogan of many childhoods.  Don’t get me wrong.  Our families are extremely important and they are gifts from God.  But because of sin entering into the picture in the Garden of Eden, many families operate in extreme dysfunction and pain.

I am so thankful for the example of forgiveness given to us from our Savior.  I’ve often heard the bigger the hurt, the deeper the love.  No one can hurt you like family and very close friends.  This is why a major part of our ministry is teaching people how to forgive.  Life is hard and relationships can be difficult.  Forgiveness releases you as the judge, jury and executioner so that you can live in peace.  It’s all in our mind anyway.  What could we possibly do to the person that would right the wrong done to us?  The act or words have already been released, so nothing can take away the event.  It’s like trying to put squeezed out toothpaste back into the tube.  This is why the CHOICE to forgive is part of the solution to this problem.  and it heals our heart, so we do not take that hurt into future relationships.  Since we have been unconditionally forgiven by our Heavenly Father, we can choose to forgive other’s by HIS power that is inside of us.  Forgiveness is NEVER saying, “It’s okay that you did what you did.”  In essence, it’s saying, “I will no longer hold it against you and try to make you pay.”  I, then, give the hurt to God.

However, reconciliation and forgiveness are two different things.  I can forgive, yet choose to not reconcile with a repeat offender.  There are natural consequences to ongoing damaging behavior.  Reconciliation takes two people, owning their part in the problem, and choosing to move forward in a healthy way.  Healthy boundaries are extremely important during this time.  There are plenty of books on the shelves helping guide you in this area.  I love Dr. Henry Cloud’s books on codependency.  If at all possible, we should try to move forward in relationships.  But this is not always possible.

Do you feel like you owe someone your loyalty?  Loyalty cannot be owed, but must be voluntarily given.  Loyalty is sometimes given because of a deep love for the individual. But repaying an emotional or imaginary debt should never be a reason for your loyalty. Are you aware that every thought that enters your mind is not your thought?  We have an enemy, and the bible is clear that he loves shooting those fiery darts into our minds.  Here are some of his dart tactics: “After all they did for me….I should”  “They are blood, you NEVER give up on family” “They could not help what they did, you should be more loving”  “They need you! Lay your pride aside and keep helping them.”   “You know they had a tough childhood, therefore you should…”

God’s truth: Speak the truth in love and lay aside falsehood.  

There is a book entitled: “Caring enough to confront” by Jeff VanVonderan.  He asked an important question in his book.  “Do you love the person enough to do what is best for that person?”  Is it good for the person that hurt you, if you close your eyes and never address the harmful behavior?  Isn’t it good for the person that hurt you to own their behavior, apologize and change?  When person after person does not address an issue, this offender is enabled to continue the behavior, and often the behavior escalates.  Also is God trying to grow you in this area?  Do you need to learn to confront?  Do you need to be true to yourself and the truth?

Did you know it is okay to think about what is best for you?  I believe we should always give others the benefit of the doubt and to never withhold forgiveness.  However, toxicity in relationships should never be enabled.  There are times we must put the person in God’s hands and walk away.  Hopefully, they will listen to God and change.  If more people stopped enabling bad behavior we would see less of it.

That’s when the enemy really turns up the heat in our minds with false guilt.  You see, false guilt feels exactly like real guilt.  We must take every thought captive to the Lord and ask HIM is this true?  It’s not wrong to make a decision to do what’s best for you AND the other person.  No matter how difficult that decision might be.  We do not have to be haunted for the rest of our lives taking on every condemning thought that enters our mind.  Romans 8 tells us that “there is now NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”  But living in this truth will take an intentional effort on your part to say NO to those nagging thoughts.  They do not go away over night.  Emotions follow thoughts and emotions can absolutely lie to us.  The more you give into the thoughts and feelings of false guilt, the louder they will shout into your life.  God values you and your feelings.  This may go against everything you were taught, but you were not created simply to take care of someone else at your expense.  You matter!