Hi, My Name Is Ralph Bass...This Is My Library
The third in our series of counseling case studies.

DEAR PASTOR: I cannot forgive my parents for the years of sinful neglect that I suffered from them. They were, and still are, alcoholics, and basically, they left me to raise myself. I made many mistakes, including a marriage just to have someone love me. That lasted 6 months and he left me for a so-called friend. Now my 2 year-old son and I have to make it on our own. I have recently become a Christian and my pastor says that in order to grow spiritually I must forgive them. But I don’t want to. They have never done anything for me. When I went to my parents for help after my husband left me they told me it was my problem. How can I forgive them when I have to live with the results of what they did to me every day? Helen R.
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Counseling Case Study 3

ANSWER: Let’s go through the back door to answer this question. Bear with me, this may sound a little tough, but I don’t know how to make this point quickly in any other way.

First, notice that your parent’s failures are “sin,” yours are “mistakes.” What you condemn in them, you excuse in yourself. Not that you sinned in the same way, but you did and do sin; and you do makes excuses for it on occasion.

Second, just how do you want your son to treat you when he is your age? Do you want him to treat you with anger and malice for your sins, sins that brought him into a home without a godly dad, in fact no dad at all? No, you want him to forgive you for your mistakes, don’t you? What did Christ say about an attitude like yours? “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” Matthew 6:14-15. You are on dangerous ground.

Third, yes you have been sinned against. That is obvious and it is sad. However, you have not made the best of a bad situation. You do sinful and foolish things, and the deeper you get, the madder you get at your parents. How long are you going to blame them? At what point do you say, “From this point on, I am responsible for my life.”?

Start today. First, ask God to take the bitterness from your life. Second, take responsibility for your life and your decisions. Blame no one for your sins. Ask God to forgive your past and give eternal meaning to your future. “…forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:13-14.

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