How to prevent families from falling apart shouldn’t even be a thing. But I know of one that is, and the worst part; it’s within my own family network. No one has done anything horrible; it’s all words. In fact, they are all great people. They are kind and generous. But harsh words aren’t not easily forgotten. So the obvious takeaway is never say anything you might regret.
We prevent families from falling apart by watching our words
I will suggest it’s due to three reasons, a lack of honesty with ourselves, a lack of honesty with others, and a lack of grace.
First, each family members are less than honest with themselves.
Haven’t you ever been in a situation where there is a conversation, and something is said that doesn’t offend you exactly, but it bothers you? Instead of addressing it right away, you let it slide. And, of course, it continues to bother us. If we had handled it then, we wouldn’t be stewing over it now.
And, of course, in families, it’s even worse because there are so many opportunities for this to happen. It’s not easy to let someone know we’re offended or to ask them to clear up something. But we need to.
Let’s be clear. I’m not talking about every little remark. We should let as much slide as we can. But you know the difference between something you can overlook and something you can’t. We all do. And if you do decide you can overlook it, make sure you are overlooking it.
Second, family members are less than honest with each other.
I’m not talking about whether you tell someone the truth about their hairstyle or not.
I’m talking about when they ask your opinion, and rather than being honest, you say what you know they want to hear. And again, in families, it’s even harder.
The family I’m talking about is where they are precisely because they have been less than honest with each other for years. And then, as things built up, they had frequent ‘spats,’ and things got better for a while again.
But it appears the cycle may have reached an impasse now.
Third, families forget that words can never be taken back.
Words are permanent. You can’t take them back, so measure each one.Tweet
There is a 19th-century folktale about a young fellow who went about town slandering the town’s wise man. One day, he went to the wise man’s home and asked for forgiveness. The man, realizing that this slanderer did not grasp the full scope of what he’d done, told him that he would forgive him on one condition: that he go home, take a feather pillow from his house, cut it up, and scatter the feathers to the wind. After he had done so, he should then return to the wise man’s house.
Though puzzled by this strange request, the young man was happy to be let off with so easy a penance. He quickly cut up the pillow, scattered the feathers, and returned to the house.
“Am I now forgiven?” he asked.
“Just one more thing,” the wise man said. “Go now and gather up all the feathers.”
“But that’s impossible. The wind has already scattered them.”
“Precisely,” he answered. “And though you may truly wish to correct the evil you have done, it is as impossible to repair the damage done by your words as it is to recover the feathers. Your words are out there in the marketplace, spreading hate, even as we speak.”
That is what our words do. They remain forever. And it doesn’t just apply to slanderous words; it applies to all our spoken words.
Words can hurt. They can knife through our hearts and leave scars behind that may heal, but the faint reminder is there forever.
Use grace words within your family unit
You might think there is a contradiction in this post. There isn’t. When I suggest you must be honest in your conversations, that doesn’t mean you don’t show grace. We are always to show grace and use the kindest words we know how. It is not an invitation to blast someone.
It’s never a case of unloading on another person because you have let things build up. But that’s exactly what happens when we don’t handle things at the moment they occur unless we’ve decided, as mentioned earlier, we are able to overlook them.
Jesus was honest in all his transactions. He spoke the truth when needed but always with love. Even within his own family.
Monitor your words carefully, especially within your family. The fallout isn’t worth it.
God bless, and have a great day.