Our local Side by Side chapter is reading through Messy Beautiful Friendship by Christine Hoover. Reading a book on female, adult friendship has been the perfect way to start off a new school year where we are cultivating new friendships and deepening others with fellow med wives. Christine shares, “When I am disappointed with my friendships and I take time to dig a little deeper in my heart, I inevitably find that I’m looking for my friends to relate to me as only God can.” Whether its disappointment from a friend or family member, our guest blogger Susan Dunning’s personal story on forgiveness inspires us when we are faced with growing in bitterness.

Susan Dunning is a teacher, speaker, and wife to a cardiologist. She and her husband live in the mountains of Kingman, AZ and have three married children and six grandchildren. Susan knows first hand how victorious living with a forgiving heart can be for herself and others.

At a young age I faced issues and cares that most don’t face through their entire life. One of the most significant was at ten years old knowing my dad had left my mom and his eight children for another woman and a life in a different city. Our family turned upside down was bad enough, but we also bore the fall-out of adults speaking poorly of my dad in my siblings’ and my presence. My mom was grieving, hurt, angry, bitter, and filled with unforgiveness. Well-meaning friends and family would try to console her by talking about my dad.

My mom turned to my aunt and a close friend. The three of them began attending a prayer meeting together. There were still months of turmoil. Our family attended a wedding, the first time we were at an event with my mom, dad, and his wife. We kids bounced back and forth like ping pong balls from Dad at his table to Mom at hers. It was horrible, feeling we were betraying both.

A week after, my mom, my sisters Mary and Micki, and I sat down to dinner, just like any other night.

 “I’ve decided to forgive your dad,” Mom blurted out.

We looked at her, waiting for more. That’s it? She then apologized to us for making the wedding uncomfortable and continued saying, if she forgave our dad and stopped calling him and his wife names then we would feel more comfortable when we were all together again.

“Forgiving is the right thing to do, girls. It will be best for everyone.”

This changed the trajectory or our family. From that time on, Mom and Dad both attended weddings, funerals, family Christmas and any other important events. Mom was kind and they talked like old friends.

Witnessing this example significantly effected my choices to forgive as an adult. My mom lived a victorious life, freely loving and caring for so many others. A life I always want to emulate.

We can choose to carry unforgiveness around. Let’s face it, we all get hurt by harsh words, severe wounds caused by people we have trusted and loved, or even just being stood up by a friend because she got busy and forgot the date. But unforgiveness becomes a heavy burden we drag around. Then the next injury makes it heavier, it begins to pile and turn to bitterness. It affects our marriage, new friendships, and family.

But unforgiveness becomes a heavy burden we drag around. Then the next injury makes it heavier, it begins to pile and turn to bitterness.

If we choose forgiveness, it’s like taking off that lead apron at the dentist, frees our chest and our hearts. If you have been injured seriously, seek counsel, forgive, take that straight jacket of bitterness off and lay it down. The relationship you have with the person who injured you is a choice; sometimes it’s safe and sometimes not.

Forgiveness is not an option. It is freeing.

Choosing forgiveness allows healing in your life and will allow new relationships to flourish.


Susan Dunning