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Inspiration

How to Start Mending Broken Family Relationships

I remember one of my uncles calmly asking me a few years ago if I was ever afraid that I would end up divorced because my parents were. It caught me off guard because I never correlated my parents’ relationship with the success or failure of my own. There are plenty of divorced couples where both the husband and wife come from a long line of lasting marriages. This is why I believe we as individuals have a lot to do with the health of the “village” we have around us. Much of it is built on how we love. 

In my early twenties when I was still figuring out my walk with God, I felt a huge tug in my spirit to start a journey of mending within my family relationships. There are a few levels of refinement I went through as the Lord revealed things to me about what love looks like when we walk in His grace. If I hadn’t invested time into this, perhaps I would be thinking, “Will my marriage make it? What sets me apart from anyone else?” It took a few years to see a significant change in the dynamics of my extended family…and I’m still in the mending process to this day.

The effort I put in is completely worth it, but I’m glad I’m not the only one toiling away for my family’s sake, because each member has a part to play and a specific burden to carry. It’s not all on your shoulders. Even if you’re not close to walking down the aisle, it’s never too early to begin setting a new precedent for past, present and future generations. Four main scenarios that test our capacity to love stand out to me, and that’s what I want to share with you.

 

1. Loving when it isn’t fair. There are so many unfortunate things that can divide a household, including abuse, addictions, abandonment and neglect. When division is raging through your household and you have a moment to retaliate, it’s the instinct of your flesh to inflict pain on someone for the emotional wounds they inflicted on you. If God looked at us that way, we would have no hope because we all fall short of His glory on a daily basis. Offer up compassion and prayers for those who may have betrayed you. Perhaps it would be best to distance yourself for a time, but choose to see them as worthy of love even though the season they’re in is a painful one.

 

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. (Romans 3:23-24)

 

2. Loving when it’s hard to forgive. I remember promising a family member that I would never talk to him again until he apologized for all the wrong he had done to our family. He would reach out occasionally, but for four years I held on to my word. One day, I was just as surprised as he was when I finally answered his call and we began to talk again. The Lord had been working on my heart and showing me the true meaning of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not earned or circumstantial—it’s a command. I felt a huge burden of pain lifted off of my shoulders, and I chose to see him through God’s eyes as I allowed him back into my life on the premise of healthy boundaries and mutual respect.

 

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

 

3. Loving when the future seems bleak. There were plenty of times when I was ready to write off a family member permanently. I didn’t care if they turned their life around and became the President of the United States—I was cutting off contact and treating them like a stranger. It’s often said “People don’t change,” but that’s not giving a lot of credit to our Creator who promised that we would become a new creation in Christ if we submit our lives to Him. It’s important to take healthy breaks from people or love them from afar if they are toxic and decide never to change. However, leaving no room for them to come back no matter what can prevent The Lord from doing the complete work within your family that He needs to do in order to change the course of future generations for the better.

 

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

 

4. Loving when tragedy strikes. As I type this, I think of my grandmother who just went home to be with The Lord and how my family was able to rally together during her last weeks of life. Death is inevitable, unfortunately, but when it happens, you can offer up your time, prayers and resources as well as reach out to family members you may have become distant from. These times are a perfect opportunity for a clean slate in a new season after loss. It really puts things in perspective when you think of eternity and how much we could use a little more peace here on Earth.

 

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:18)

 

With all of the above said, there are exceptions. If you are in danger or a victim of violence, it’s important to seek help and alert the proper authorities. God does not call us to live a life in bondage to someone else simply because they are family. You deserve to be loved, treasured and safe.

Has God been mending relationships within your family? Do you have more questions on how to work through specific circumstances? Please leave a comment below. We’re here to talk.

Image: Lightstock | Prixel Creative

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5 Comments

  1. soakesie

    Posted by soakesie on August 19, 2017 at 15:38

    Edit: Also, it is very difficult to forgive over and over when the same things are being done to you by the same person with no apology and no apparent remorse.

    • Kytia Lamour

      Posted by Kytia Lamour on October 25, 2017 at 18:31

      I understand what you mean, and all I can say is keep praying and asking for direction. Seriously. I’m not saying you should do what I did, but this is what happened between me and my own father. (My situation is different because my parents are divorced and I lived with my mom.)

      What it took for me to get the proper healing from the Lord was to completely cut off communication with my dad. I made a promise that I would never talk to him again until he apologized. Fast forward four years later and God puts on my heart that I need to forgive my dad. Holding onto bitterness was only harming me, and it if I proclaimed to know the Lord, it wasn’t up to me to demand an apology before I forgave.

      I definitely needed that time away from my father to heal from a lot of things, but once I began to talk to him again, I made it very clear that it wasn’t because of anything he did, it was because of the work God was doing in my life. My dad doesn’t live in the same state, but I’ve been flying out to see him once a year and things have drastically changed. He still hasn’t apologized, but I believe my absence from his life was a wakeup call that he needed to treat me with love and respect in order for us to have a healthy relationship.

      I write all this to say that God knows what it’s going to take. Because you and your mom are close and your parents are still together, I’d like to ask if you’ve talked to her about this and what her perspective is.

  2. soakesie

    Posted by soakesie on August 19, 2017 at 15:37

    My Dad and I have an awful relationship. I see no change in the future because he refuses to even acknowledge all the wrong he does me (and I’m not exaggerating or being sensitive- I promise). HE never apologizes or asks for forgiveness, even when I try to be honest and explain to him how he hurt me. And obviously I have to be near him all the time when I’m at home from college, because he’s my dad. On the other hand, my mom is my BEST FRIEND. What do I do? I can’t distance myself from my dad because that would mean distancing myself from my mom!

  3. Project Inspired

    Posted by cowgirllife on July 30, 2017 at 06:52

    me and my mom are not the best of relationships, and I would like to fix it and I know she does too. You should make a post on what it means to love and how to. especially when it comes to family’s.

    • Kytia Lamour

      Posted by Kytia Lamour on July 31, 2017 at 00:49

      Hi sis. That’s a very good topic to write about, I’ll see what I can do. In the meantime, I’d like to share that I’ve had strained relationships within my family as well. God really helped me through it by giving me the boldness to have a honest conversation with family members to see how we could move forward with a healthy relationship.

      A place to start can be to sit down with your mom and discuss realistic ways you can be there for each other and what you both can bring to the table as far as a better outlook on the future, forgiving yourselves and each other, and setting a non judgemental and loving atmosphere. You can ask her what she would like for your relationship regarding communication, quality time, interactions, etc. You can offer the same.

      For example, I had this same talk with my mom and it turns out the main thing we needed was to clear the air, address the past, but start a clean slate. She needed more quality time and meaningful conversations, and I needed her respect in regards to allowing me to make my own decisions and not forcing her opinions on my life, career, and marriage in a demeaning way. I really needed support and encouragement, and so did she. It just looks different in how we deliver it to each other. I hope that makes sense, and I’ll be praying for you.