Building Relationship Skills
You Can't Have Strong Communities Without Them
If you are struggling with familial relationships in your life of testing without intermission and truly want to “heal generational trauma” join me in pondering how we can bypass some of the conflicts when they arise.
Interpersonal relationship mitigation can save us much pain from heartache and bitterness. It is a waning skill in our age of one-liner quips to our sounding board and biting comebacks to dissenters on social media and chat groups. And like any skill, it must be practiced to acquire proficiency. If we don’t utilize these skills in our families, they won’t be there for any other community we participate in, whether that is a group of friends, co-workers, neighborhood, or intentional communities. They would be doomed from the start because, rest assured, conflict will arise.
The following are things I’m trying to teach my children (and tools they will need to use as adults with an agitating father and a mother who will always encourage them to live near family, love babies, have many of them, and build the only legacy that lasts, among our myriad of other imperfections that can’t possibly be resolved on this side of eternity.) Perhaps they will be useful to you as you increasingly encounter the idea we can just abandon our families in the name of boundaries and falsely labeled trauma or abuse.
Appreciate one another.
While we live in a fallen world and while there are those who experience greater trials, the vast majority of us were given a tremendous gift from God on the day we were born.
In His wisdom and Providence, He placed us in this time, with these people - for our good. Even the bad times cause us to grow. There are no relationships like our kin that will make us better people. The very intimacy of these relationships makes them more work than our bind-less friends, church family, and co-workers. These people are woven together with the same fabric as we are. Don’t shun God’s gifts and devalue these strands of your cord, relegating them to the same importance as a friend or colleague.
Be grateful for the gift of your family and focus on the parts of them that bring you joy, rather than dwelling on their faults. Whatsoever things in them are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy, think on those things. Focus on their strengths for it is the surefire antidote to allowing bitterness to take hold in your heart.
Your family doesn’t owe you their stories. They shouldn’t have to dredge up their pain so you understand what they have gone through, why they can be harsh at times, or experience sadness, distance, communicate poorly, etc., etc. We all grow at different rates and lamenting about the “emotional maturity” of others does not help them develop. Causing more pain by receding from their lives doesn't help anyone heal. Give them grace and assume they are doing the best they can. Don’t make it about you.
Remember, love is patient. It doesn’t seek her own way or rejoice in wrongdoing.
It bears and endures all things.
It believes and hopes all things.
See that ye fall not out by the way. (Genesis 45:24)