There’s no such thing as a perfect family. Some are healthier than others, but all have messes, conflicts, and issues to sort through. Some of our most painful wounds can come from family members. A parent said something hurtful to you when you were a child, and it’s seared into your memory. A sibling refused to stick up for you when a neighborhood bully tormented you. Maybe your sister is perpetually jealous of you and passive-aggressively sabotages your happiness. Maybe your adult child won’t speak to you because you land in different places politically and theologically.
Is this just the way it is? Can we hope for something better than we’ve known up to this point?
Recently on Susie Larson Live, I spoke with Visionary Family Ministries co-founder, Rob Rienow. He suggests that healing and wholeness are entirely possible and something we should believe for, pray for, and strive for.
“Reconciliation. Forgiveness. Healing. Restoration. These are ultimately matters of the heart. They are God’s territory. These are miracles that He accomplishes. We need God to powerfully move in our hearts, and in the hearts of our family members, if we are to experience true healing. Therefore, we need to pray.”
We’ll get to one of Rob’s suggested prayers in a moment. Still, while he invites us to the sacred work of praying for our own hearts and our family members, he also challenges us to do some of the work necessary to build bridges and cultivate and sustain healthy relationships. Here are a few examples:
- Healing through repentance and forgiveness
- Healing through listening
- Healing through accepting
- Healing through spiritual warfare
- Healing through boundaries
- Healing through patience
Relationships aren’t easy. But they’re so worth the effort. And unfortunately, sometimes, you may do all of the work necessary to heal a relationship and still, the other person is so locked down in their pain or sin or indifference that there seems to be no hope for reconciliation, no hope for a safe, healthy relationship. Scripture tells us to be at peace with others as far as it concerns us (see Romans 12:18). Sometimes after doing everything we know to do, we need to let go and trust God to do the miraculous work that only He can do.
How do you know if you’re supposed to keep contending in the faith or if it’s time to roll the whole burden over to God and wait for Him to work? Stay intimately connected to God and pay attention to the presence or absence of peace in your heart. The God of Angel Armies will show you your best strategy for this particular season of this relationship.
Here’s a prayer from Rob Rienow’s book, “Healing Family Relationships: A Guide to Peace and Reconciliation”:
“Lord, I know you love to take broken things and make them whole. I know you love to take dead things and make them live. I am asking you to heal this broken relationship I have with_________. Not only do I want you to heal this relationship for our sakes, but I also know that if you do this, you will look good! I will give you all the credit for this miracle. This will be a ‘God story’ we will tell for generations to come!”
Nothing hurts quite like broken family relationships. Know that God sees and deeply cares about the hurt in your heart. Don’t give up hope. Keep praying. Keep believing. And take your cues from Almighty God, who knows the best next steps for you.Healing family rifts