It has been almost a year now of Netflix dates, taco nights and simple Sundays spent with the love of my life. We have learned so much about each other as the months rolled by. We have grown closer, both as soulmates and as friends, but ultimately, we have grown more in love with Christ.

I am in utter amazement at all the spectacular things God can do in just a year's time. However, it has not been all sunshine and rainbows on this journey together. I am saddened to say that my partner's skin color has been an evident complication in our relationship. Not by any prejudices of my own, but by the prejudices and stereotypes of a few of my family member's.

I want to be clear when I say that the vast majority of my family has been unconditionally kind, welcoming, and Christ-like at the introduction of our interracial relationship (which happens to be the first of it's kind in my family). Unfortunately, though, kindness is not everybody's cup of tea.

It pains me to say that there is one family member in particular that has cut ties with me altogether and made the choice to stop speaking to me entirely. Upon hearing the news of my budding relationship, this family member slandered my name with gossip, lies, hateful and derogatory words, and untrue rumors... all because my boyfriend is black.

When this information came to my attention a year ago, I was sick to my stomach. This person has known me from birth, they have loved me from birth (or so I thought), how or why could I be treated so unfairly by them?

After months and months of tears, anger, hostility, confusion and bitterness, I have reached a final verdict on where my heart lies. And that verdict is forgiveness.

In Luke 23, amidst being crucified, slandered, mocked and so much more, Jesus said this "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do..." (verse 34). Jesus was being torn apart limb for limb emotionally, spiritually, and even physically. He was treated worse than any of us could fathom. He was treated like a criminal and a sinner, neither of which He was. In short, He was treated entirely unfairly. And even though He had literally every reason in the world to choose hatred, hostility, anger, or bitterness, He still chose to forgive. Jesus understood even in His worst moments that the people crucifying Him were not the real enemy. He clearly states "they know not what they do".

During our brokenness in life, we can very easily choose anger and hatred to fill our hearts and our minds. But in the brokenness, we must realize that we are dealing with very broken people. The people spewing hate at you might not actually hate you, it is very likely that those people probably hate themselves.

The ones who choose hate over and over again through the trials in their lives have allowed the enemy to take hold of their hearts, minds, and spirits. They eventually reach a point in time where love has no place in their lives anymore. Their anger and resentment is so strong and so powerful that it becomes a natural and comfortable place for them to reside. The enemy is holding them captive, and most of the time, they don't even know it.

The family members that spew hate, and lies, and unkind or untrue biases about myself and my significant other are not the enemy. They are souls who have been so torn apart by the world that they could not possibly properly show love. They have no love left in them to give.

It is a sad reality that hurt people hurt other people. And I cannot be hostile towards these people because they do not realize or understand the gravity of their mistakes. They know not what they do.

So if you're reading this, and you feel like I'm talking about you, please listen carefully.

I am choosing to forgive you because hate is too great of a burden to bear. If I choose hatred and anger, I will only be doing myself a disservice. Choosing hate will only make me more like you, so bruised and so broken from the demons of this world that I cannot even recognize the love right in front of me. So I am making a choice. I am breaking the cycle. I am choosing to love you anyway. I wish you nothing but the best. I pray that joy finds a way into your soul, and I pray that one day you choose to love me too. But until then, please know that you are missed and so dearly remembered by the sweet little girl that used to cherish you. I will never forget the precious memories that we shared. God bless you, and God help you.

And the people said, Amen.