We all Need A Family: Family Relationships & Health Part 2

Everyone Needs a Family

Part of my history is my struggle with emotional eating and my feelings about my Dad, his work schedule and his missing out on my childhood. There is so much more I could write about. I used to believe that my family was normal, but he extended family struggles and bad feelings between the two sides of my family have made me realize that we all have our problems in our family trees!

Mental illness, tragic deaths, divorce, incest, promiscuity and obesity are a part of the human condition and my family is simply a normal family. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying these things are okay. I am not suggesting that any of these things are pleasing or desirable. What I am suggesting is that there is a way back from each one.

I have come to realize that every family has problems and that families can move beyond those problems with hard work and by following a few guidelines. These guidelines are meant for the “normal” conflicts, but there are situations that are beyond these simple steps. For instance, rape, murder, or other serious crimes are not so simply dealt with and in these situations professional guidance with a Christian counselor should be sought.

1. Confession

If you have wronged another in your family, make it right. Apologize and say you are sorry. If you wronged someone publically, apologize publically. We underestimate the power of the words, “I was wrong and I’m sorry!” Whether we practice the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous or not, the practice of making amends is sound. Strong family relationships begin when we are willing to say “I’m sorry” and to make amends whenever possible.

2. Time

I have had surgery several times in my life and every single time it took weeks for the physical incision to heal and sometimes months before I was back to normal. We can’t expect emotional wounds to heal overnight just because someone apologizes. Even when the person who receives the apology forgives the offender it will take some time for true healing to take place.

3.  Forgiveness

Forgiveness is essential. Let me explain for a moment. I know the Bible tells us to forgive, and yes I believe quite clearly that what God asks me to do in the Bible I should do. We do need to realize that forgiveness is not mostly for the offenders’ benefit. In addition, just because we forgive someone for something doesn’t mean there are no consequences for their action. I forgive others for their actions because it is best for me. If I hang on to my anger and feelings, I only allow their actions to continue to victimize me.

4. Love

Simply love others. Don’t worry about their failures, poor decisions, or beliefs. Just love them. I love my family and my extended family. I’ve decided it doesn’t help for me to throw stones into the lives of others for their failures, and I know it hasn’t helped me for people to throw stones into my life. This doesn’t mean that we don’t offer advice, correction and support, but it does mean that we demonstrate love first and we express everything we desire to say with love.

5. Encouragement

Try encouraging others and take a step away from manipulation. We all love the family member who always finds the good in everything and we avoid the family member who tries to tell you how to live and manipulates you into being what they think you should be. Be positive, but don’t lie. Being an encouraging person doesn’t mean we tell someone a lie to make them feel good.

6. Live  

We must live for the present and not live in the past. Our family members and extended family members will love doing “life” around us when we live it. Live in such a way with your family that you encourage other people to embrace life because life is awesome. When we live life as people who are willing to apologize and to make amends and when we practice forgiveness, love and encouragement, others will want to live themselves.

Ask for Help when you need it

There are some situations that go beyond these principles, so if you find yourself in a very difficult place and you are not sure what to do, speak with your pastor or a professional counselor for guidance. But in most situations practicing the above will work and be more than enough to bring about healing and health in your family relationships.

Click here for Family Relationships & Health Pt 1