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  • Lea Hartline

Letting Go of Relationships: Choosing Forgiveness and Trust in God

Sisters should share a forever bond, but sometimes that is not reality.
Me and my sisters as children.

In a moment that echoes in my heart, I grappled with a decision I never thought I would have to make: distancing myself from my baby sister. This choice, made in the quiet depths of my soul, was one I reached after much pain and reflection. I made the decision and felt confident it was the right choice. When I planned my trip to the west coast to visit my mom, I had no desire or plans to see her. I had already made the choice to go no contact.

Seeing my sister and letting her go so I can find my way to forgiving her

However, under the weight of family pressure, I found myself sitting in her living room. Hoping against hope for a different outcome, but once again she began trashing a family member and telling what I knew were lies about this person to try and make herself look like she was a martyr sacrificing sleep and working so hard to make everything work. I sat there, the familiar cadence of her voice spun yet another tale, a lie about someone we both knew. It was in that instant, hearing her words, that a simmering rage I'd tried so hard to quell erupted into a war of words. That confrontation, raw and unfiltered, left us both wounded and exhausted, a stark testament to the fractured bond we shared.

My choice to go no contact wasn't made out of spite or that fleeting moment of anger. It was a heart-wrenching step towards a kind of forgiveness and peace I had yet to find in my relationship with this abusive person. The betrayal that cast its shadow over our relationship was not just a singular event; it was a series of deceptions, the most painful being her fabricated battle with pancreatic cancer. One after another, her lies felt like a relentless tide, eroding the fragile shoreline of trust and hope I had for when I opened my heart to her after years of being separated as children.

In the midst of our shattered relationship, I could see glimmers of what might have been – moments where her better qualities shone through the dark tapestry of her deceit. She wasn't just the sum of her lies; there were facets of her that, in another life, another reality, could have fostered a beautiful, enduring bond. But the constant deception, stealing, gaslighting, the disparaging words about those who should have been dear to her cast a long, unyielding shadow over these fleeting glimpses of what could have been a genuine connection.

The decision to step back, to sever this tie, was not about punishment or retribution. It was about self-preservation, about acknowledging that the path to my own healing and forgiveness required space – space where her lies could no longer reach me, where the cycle of hurt and disappointment could finally be broken. This journey of letting go has been a crucible of mixed emotions:

  • Grief for the sisterly bond that never truly formed.

  • Relief from the perpetual hope for change.

  • A deep, aching sadness for what might have been.

As I navigate this path, I lean on my faith, drawing strength from scripture and the understanding that sometimes, the most profound act of love – for ourselves and for others – is to let go. It's a choice that comes with its own set of challenges and heartaches, a decision that constantly tests the boundaries of forgiveness and the resilience of the human spirit. But in this choice, I find hope not for what our relationship could have been but for what my future can be: a future where peace and healing reign, free from the shadows of broken trust and unfulfilled promises.

Facing my own truth in the quest to forgive

Sometimes the chains that bind us are family chains that should be broken.

My journey towards making peace with a broken relationship has been deeply personal and transformative. It's a path that has led me to confront some hard truths, not just about my sister but about myself and the nature of our bond.

For years, I found myself caught in a cycle of trying to 'fix' the broken parts of our relationship. It was a pattern that seemed noble – after all, isn't that what love does? It tries to heal, to mend, to save. But I've learned that this pattern, well-intentioned as it may be, can become destructive. It's a realization that trying to fix someone is not only unfeasible, but it's also not healthy – neither for them nor for me.

This pattern of 'fixing' often stemmed from a deep-seated belief that I could somehow control the outcome of our relationship. Each time she lied or manipulated, a part of me believed that I could change things with enough love, patience, and understanding. But I've come to understand this belief was more about my need to feel in control than about her need to change.

The truth is, we cannot walk someone else's journey for them. We can offer support, love, and guidance, but we cannot make their choices nor bear their burdens as our own. This realization, while painful, has been crucial in my journey toward healing. It's echoed in Galatians 6:5, which says, "for each one should carry their own load." This scripture reminded me that everyone is responsible for their path, and it's not my duty to carry the weight of my sister's choices.

I've also recognized that watching her walk a path that has been destructive has brought out the worst in me and my need to control her actions. It's led to feelings of anger, hurt, and disappointment that have clouded my judgment and peace. As I reflect on this, I'm reminded of Romans 12:18, which urges us to live at peace with everyone, as far as it depends on us. Sometimes, living at peace means stepping away from relationships fraught with conflict and pain.

Letting go of this need to fix others has been a process that involved a lot of prayer, reflection, and soul-searching. It's meant learning to forgive myself for not being able to 'make it work' and to understand that this isn't a failure on my part but a recognition of our individual journeys and limitations.

As I continue to walk this path, I find comfort and strength in my faith. It's a journey towards understanding that true love sometimes means letting go and allowing others the space to walk their path, even if we can't be a part of it. It's a path toward peace that surpasses understanding and comes from knowing I've done all I can and that the rest is in God's hands.

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