Last Updated on March 20, 2018

Recently, I read an intriguing book, “Tombstones and Banana Trees” by Medad Birungi.

The premise of the book resides in the author’s journey of forgiveness within his family. A good yet tough read as you visualize the insanity of how broken people inflict harm on relationships. The chaos marked the young boy.

The family list of issues included parental abandonment and emotional abuse. It emotionally handcuffed the author. He became a prisoner of his own hatred and unforgiveness. The tragedy of the conflicts splashed on his siblings and community. The heart of his mother ached for her children. The years of withholding forgiveness griped the family so tightly that living life was wearisome. The celebration of traditional family events… births, deaths, birthdays, holidays were so painful that it kept the family apart. The extent of their chaos strangled the once thriving family business. A once redeemable conflict hemorrhaged out of control.  Pride and stubbornness prevailed.

As I read the book I thought, “This could be any family’s story. Different issues, similar pain.”

Think about a recent family gathering: vacation, holiday, wedding, or funeral.  Were there any strained moments among the adults? Did conversations change when “Aunt Susie” or” Brother Al” entered the room? Is the lack in one generation crippling relationships for the next generation because the adults will not forgive? Are you tempted to remove a photo from the living room mantel or scratch someone from your address book? Are you forced to dance around any conversation about certain relationships with your children?

Siblings stop speaking over issues that after time lose reasoning.  In a marriage, in-laws never bond even as grandchildren arrive.   Parent –adult child disputes grow so cold that even any attempts at reconciliation fail.

I know that in some instances real harm and hurt runs very deep.  What will it take for warring family members to secure a family legacy worth celebrating?

Though the book ends well some family members died… never to witness true forgiveness and reconciliation.

As a mother  that has seen and witnessed some rough family waters my intention is clear… create an environment where forgiveness and reconciliation is a foregone conclusion. We must make this a family matter.

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  1. This is so wise. I've seen families torn about by refusal to forgive also. It isn't pretty at all.

  2. In some cases, even though forgiveness is possible reconciliation is not an option because family members behave in toxic and damaging ways. Though sad, it is necessary to have a peaceful, healthy life. It is nice to think that there is something inherently more “special” about a relationship with a family member even if they are chaotic, destructive, and unhealthy. Though we can give them more chances than we would give a stranger or friend, we cannot change them. That’s why I feel it is not good to judge whether others are doing wrong by not allowing abusive people back into their life. Unless you have lived their life, you have no right to decide whether their decisions are “right” or “wrong.”