Monday, August 4, 2014

Mending a Rift with Family

I wrote recently about how a rift with God affects spirituality.  In this post I’d like to address how rifts with family members affect spirituality.

Image Courtesy:  American Gateways

In my own extended family rifts have formed over people leaving the family religion, finances when living arrangements were shared, a divorce which affected children negatively, finances when one member needed help, an addiction, and marital discord to mention a few. 

One of the effects I’ve observed is that no one wants to talk about the situation because of the conflict that arises.  Some families avoid arguing.  Others argue in colorful outbursts.  I agree with Troy Dunn who said, “time heals almost no wounds.  What heals a wound is good treatment.  That doesn’t come from sitting there, waiting.”

In my own life I have seen how wounds that don’t get aired out fester.  It is hiding the truth about our soul wounds that impedes our growth.  I like how the hymn states it, 

Who am I to judge another
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can't see.

In a Deseret News article Charles Randall Paul was quoted as saying, “Take turns talking not about the problem, but ‘how I got to where I am’ with respect to each other or the issue.  A boy who left his mother’s church should not talk about his religious beliefs, but how he reached them.  The honesty and emotion of sharing usually crumble part of the wall separating people.  The potential for healing is in sharing and feeling listened to, confided in, trusted.”  I liked this quote because it identifies the “right question” to ask when seeking to resolve conflict.

Arguments are over the theology, the finances or the details.  I don’t think it is productive to argue about anything.  It is important to hear how another person viewed the events.  Often the same event is viewed differently by people who experienced it together.

Recently I had a mending conversation with a family member.  I learned that without our families we wouldn’t know our imperfections (or what needs to be fixed).  It is tempting to me to try to find peace by isolating myself from others.  While there is potential for happiness in solitude, I believe that the greatest happiness we will ever know will be in our family relationships.

Spirituality is harder in a climate of conflict.  We turn to God in conflict for comfort and guidance.  We often can’t feel peace during these times and spirituality helps.  Some of us turn to numbing agents like drugs and alcohol.  The peace we need is the warm reassurance that everything will be all right in the end.  God can give us that.  As we resolve conflicts we gain confidence that a happy ending is possible.  

Spirituality is a tool for solving problems.  The more we use the tool, the better we get at using it.   I think that spirituality is a healthy way to address life’s problems.  

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