TRANSCRIPTS: Good morning, Five Minute Families. Many families in America just enjoyed a long weekend with extended family. As families reunite, conversations abound about work, church, medical needs, social happenings, and more. The participants change a bit each year as we gather with new significant others, new children, and close personal friends.
Each family is different but many of us want to show our best side to others. Family posters often read something along the lines of “In our family we share. We laugh a lot. // We always do our best. We have fun. We’re often loud and even silly. // We make mistakes because we’re real. We forgive each other. We say I’m sorry. // We give big hugs. We stick together. We show love.”
Posters like that sound cute and all, but what happens when we do make those mistakes? Family life gets hard in those moments. And, those hard moments are hard enough when it is just a nuclear family. What happens when the extended family is involved? What happens, Five Minute Families, when a large portion of the family makes a mistake – a sinful mistake – that hurts a single member of the family?
Let’s explore a specific example. In family community, often, someone more “in the know” fills others in about someone else’s life. Moments such as these are necessary and good to help us all stay connected, since there is not always time for us to speak individually at length with everyone. However, what will sometimes happen is that the sharing session becomes a gossip session. Once sin has entered in, it is tough to shut such situations down. So, let’s say your family didn’t heed the prompting of the Holy Spirit and a gossip session was held, and the family member who was discussed was hurt when they found out. What do you do now?
1. Take individual responsibility. One person cannot speak for everyone who participated in the wrongful behavior (in our example – gossip). But, each individual should do some soul searching and listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit that he or she takes responsibility for his or her, no matter how small. James 5:16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.” Depending on the circumstance, the family as a whole may need to make a collective apology, or each individual may need to apologize.
2. Review where things went off the rail into sinfulness. This can be tricky because you cannot let the review become another problematic gossip time or a time of trying to defend bad behavior. Pray if individual review is best or collective review. It might be best to ask the offended family member how they would like you to proceed.
3. Communicate your thoughts, feelings, and desires lovingly. In our example, if you felt you had a legitimate reason for bringing forth your comment, go only to the pertinent person, and be willing to focus solely on that thought. Don’t speculate and don’t defend.
4. Make plans to make amends as long as it won’t further the hurt. A sincere apology is one step. Discussing – and not defending – the offense if the offended person desires might be necessary so that the hurt family member can more fully understand the situation. You will need to let go of your pride and understand that the offended family member is fully within their rights to be angry and distrusting of you and others. Even if they forgive you, it will take time for their feelings to align with their choice AND it will take time to rebuild the trust and camaraderie that was damaged by your sin.
5. Discuss how to better handle a similar situation in the future. If a similar starting situation is likely to occur again, make sure all members of the extended family are aware that keeping to godly behavior is of utmost importance. James 4:17 reminds us that “it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.” The Holy Spirit will lead you in how to share and not gossip.
Please note that this Five Minute Family is not just for dysfunctional families. This is for all families. No matter how much we want to honor the Lord and point to Him, we will fail. When we fail within the whole family, it can be tempting to point the finger at someone else. Or to say, well, at least it doesn’t happen all the time. Nope. Sin is sin. As one article said, “We may have died to sin, but sin has not yet died out in us.” AND a sin requires confession, repentance, and a change of behavior. Further prayer and guidance on how to proceed is always a wise practice.
Love one other. Confess your sins to one another. Forgive one another. Be joyful together and give God all the glory when He redeems a broken relationship. If you would like to hear more about our 2022 Family Camp options, check out clearviewretreat.org. Be blessed!