Family Feud? Here Are 5 Things to Do
Dear Selfless Esteem,
My sister is loved so much but doesn’t seem to see it. She had a fight (over records of wrongs) with a family member a few years ago. That member has reached out multiple times wanting reconciliation, but she resists. My family has not been all together in a few years. She says I don’t support her because I believe in forgiving. She has cut me & other family members off multiple times for weeks because we view it differently. I’m trying to let go & let God but we are all sad.
Distraught Family Gal
Dear Distraught Family Gal,
I’m sorry you are going through this. Family feuds are so painful.😔 Here are five things you can do during this difficult time.
You are wise to trust God. The most important thing you can do is ask for His help. He hears our prayers (Isaiah 65:24), and He is near the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18). For more details about focusing on God, see the posts, “Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self-Esteem,” “The Real Truth About God,” and “How To Pray in 5 Simple Steps.”
2. Get Help.
You stated your sister cuts you and other family members off for weeks at a time because she views it differently. It seems as if you have different definitions of “reconciliation” and “forgiving.” Find a competent family therapist to facilitate your communication and provide an objective perspective. (See the posts, “What is Wise Counsel and Good Therapy?” and “Why You Need a Therapist ASAP.”) Thankfully, your sister does resume communication at times, which means she is interested in having a relationship. Therefore, she may agree to participate in family therapy.
At the same time, I recommend individual therapy for each of you so that you can freely express yourselves, especially since therapists are required to maintain confidentiality (within limits). Otherwise, expressing your thoughts and feelings to other family members or to friends of the family could make matters worse.
3. Give it Time.
Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” It’s good to be a peacemaker, but don’t rush the process.
Your sister’s reaction seems to indicate that the “records of wrongs” were egregious and/or she was deeply hurt. In that case, it takes time to heal and build trust.
If you choose to have family therapy, the therapist can help your family members identify their needs and how to meet those needs. The therapist can also help your family compromise if necessary.
Outside of therapy, take a break from the problem and just enjoy each other’s company. Resist any temptation to talk about the issue until your next therapy session.
4. Study Reconciliation in the Bible.
Consider the manner, in which Jacob sought reconciliation with his brother, Esau (Genesis 32:3-21; Genesis 33:1-3). Jacob had stolen Esau’s birthright (Genesis 27:1-37). Esau became so angry that he intended to kill him. Jacob fled to safety in another region (Genesis 27:41-45). Twenty years later, Jacob started heading back. He sent gifts to Esau, and when they met, he “bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother” (Genesis 33:3).
Instead of stealing from Esau, Jacob did the opposite this time. He gave Esau numerous gifts because their relationship was more important to him than material possessions. He humbled himself and put his brother first.
Consider the story of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers (Genesis 37; 39-45). When the brothers returned to their father, Jacob, they acted as if Joseph was killed by an animal. Jacob’s grief was inconsolable. Over 20 years later, Joseph observed his brothers’ remorse. One particular brother, Judah, had such a change of heart that he offered himself as a slave in place of his youngest brother. This is the opposite of his previous behavior: selling his brother into slavery vs. offering himself as a slave to protect his brother from slavery.
Your stated that your family member “reached out for reconciliation.” Has that family member’s heart changed, as evidenced by behaving the opposite of the “records of wrongs?” Is that family member taking a posture of humility and putting your sister first? Perhaps this can be explored in individual and family therapy.
5. Do Self-Care.
During this stressful time, show yourself some love. For more details, see the blog, “6 Effective Ways to Manage Stress.” In the midst of family conflict, may you have inner calm and peace. 😌
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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