There are families who have not spoken to one another in not just days or weeks, but months, years and even decades. They’ve allowed hurts to fester and grow, as well as create walls and barriers between one another. They have lost out on opportunities to grow together, and to get to know each other’s family. I know an older woman with two sisters; who had not spoken in decades due to past hurts. They finally came together, when one of the sisters was diagnosed with cancer. Walls came down, and their relationships began to heal. There was sadness in the realization that they missed out on many years of being able to get to know one another. Yet, they experienced great joy when they mended fences, rebuilt their relationships, and changed their twilight years.
The hurts that were so deep kept these sisters from talking to one another for decades. What are the things that drive us to such a place? What makes us unwilling to bend, or turn the other cheek, to be able to see from another person’s perspective? Hurts can come in many different forms and experiences. Each family has its own unique story to tell…. a perceived favorite child, an incident that created problems, perspectives and bias’s that became more important than the relationship.
I walk into new territory, as my children grow older. I can relate to the desires I know my parents had. The desire for all of my children to continue to support, care, love, and come along side one another. How do we develop a foundation that will not crack, or crumble, under the weight of life’s hurts and struggles?
In my own family we often heard, “Josiah is your favorite child.” And for some it may truly appear that he was, as he was allowed many privileges. We would remind the other five children, that we love each of you, and we aren’t favoring Josiah over any of you. When Josiah was asked to do his homework, he sat on the couch and got it done. When he was asked to do a chore, he got up and completed it. So, when he asked to go out and play, drive the go-kart, or go to a movie it was easy to say, “yes.” It became a gentle reminder to my other children, that this was a privilege he earned; not because we favored him, but because of his obedience. We take every opportunity to remind each child how special they are, how they were created uniquely by God with a special purpose, and how much we love them. I think it is important, did we do it perfectly? No, we did not, nor will we. We can only strive to do our best. I would encourage you to constantly bring it back to the Scriptures of how God wants us to treat one another. My grandma often spoke God’s word to us – we should turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-40; Luke 6:29), and we should not be a stumbling block to others (Titus 2:7; Romans 14:13; 1 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 6:3). How do we love like God calls us to love, how do we forgive as God calls us to forgive? How do we live as God calls us to live?
God placed us in families, to help us learn and grow and strive to be better, to reach others and be an example. How we treat one another in our families will be a light for Jesus. I encourage you to start sharing with your children when they are young the importance of families, importance of practicing forgiveness, turning the other cheek, practicing speaking truth in love, and finding ways as a family to love, honor, care, protect and share with each other. And when the hurts come – which they will – we need to find ways to deal with them in healthy ways. Do not allow the hurt, whether real, imagined, or amplified to cut your relationship off within your family. Broken relationships are not God’s best. It is not His design for families. If we go back to Scripture, time after time, we can learn from Jesus how to love, forgive, and grow our relationships. Our families can shine for Jesus as well. When we support one another and come along side to help carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2); we become living examples of the Scriptures God has given us.
Families need to bind together when there is a problem or a challenge. My family still has unresolved hurts. But I’ve seen my family come together to accomplish a goal and to help out when life is rough and bumpy. One example is the passing of my son, Jeremiah. Both my family, and my church family, came around and loved and lifted us up; the focus was how do we help, how do we gird you, how do we care. My sister called funeral homes for us; knowing we didn’t have the money for a funeral. She checked out costs and called a friend for insight, who had lost a child; and discovered where to go and how to help. She made difficult phone calls when she knew I was not capable of making them. Her son wrote an amazing fun quirky “Go Fund Me” account, and the church came around as well. We were able to celebrate Jeremiah, bury him, and not have to go into debt, or rush through the grieving process because of funds. My family and church family lifted me up.
Currently, my 82-year-old parents are building a home. As I’ve watched my family come together to sort, move and physically build the home; it is encouraging that we can set aside differences and focus on loving, caring and honoring our parents.
We must lean on the Scriptures; and the examples God gives in His word. I had the privilege to watch my grandparents and parents walk out the Scriptures, not perfectly, but always reflecting and pointing us back to their truth. I encourage you as parents and families that the best way to discipline, guide, instruct and lay a foundation for our children is to read, share, and discuss God’s word daily.