Every family experiences conflict, hurt, and brokenness. There are two big reasons for this reality. First, each of us struggles with sin and character problems. Therefore, when multiple people with character problems live together under the same roof, you get lots of problems! Second, God created the family as the foundation of all human life and society. Satan and his demons understand this, so a tremendous amount of their firepower is directed toward breaking the relationships between spouses, parents and children, and brothers and sisters. I believe you are reading this excerpt from “Healing Family Relationships” because you desire healing in one of your family relationships, or perhaps for your entire family tree. There is good news! God loves your family. He intentionally put the members of your family together. He has the power to use the joys and the sorrows of your family’s journey to draw you closer to Him and to one another.
In the pages ahead you will not find pat answers or quick fixes. However, you will find encouragement, hope, and principles from the Bible that will give you practical steps toward healing broken relationships in your family and experiencing more peace in your home. We need God’s power every day in the Rienow home. Amy and I have been married since 1994, and we have been blessed with seven children. That adds up to nine sinful people living under the same roof! Let’s run the math on that for a moment. There are thirty-six relationships in our house. I have a unique relationship with eight people, my wife and seven kids. My wife has a unique relationship with seven people, as her relationship with me is counted in my list. When you add it all up, there are thirty-six individual relationships. Do you know what that means? Not a single day goes by where we don’t have problems, conflicts, and blowups of one kind or another. We are in daily need of mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
The struggles within our homes are compounded by challenging relationships with parents, in-laws, and extended family. Not only do we have the problems and hurts of today, but many families are feeling the consequences of past wounds and generational brokenness. I was not born into what anyone would call a healthy family tree. My mother was my father’s fourth wife. My father was my mother’s second husband. Neither of them knew the Lord when I was born. When I was fifteen years old, my parents divorced due in large part to my father’s infidelity. Even through all this sadness and brokenness, God’s healing power has been at work. The Lord brought my mother, and later my father, to faith in Jesus. He has blessed me and Amy through all the joys and struggles of our marriage relationship and is now using us to raise the next generation to follow Him.
God is in the business of taking broken things and making them whole. He loves to bring joy out of ashes. It is not too late for my family, and it is not too late for yours. Through Christ we can be reconciled with God and reconciled with one another. Reconciliation, however, is not a passive process. Many times, while we are struggling with family conflicts and dysfunction, we rightly desire for things to be better, and yet we are not taking intentional and active steps toward healing. It takes more than good intentions to seek healing in a relationship.
Healing is usually a slow process, especially healing from family wounds. This is not a book of magic formulas or quick fixes. The biblical principles here will give you guidance and encouragement for what may be a long process. Some of the chapters may not fit your specific family situation, while others may contain the exact biblical principles you need to take a step toward reconciliation. The Lord will not abandon you as you take small steps toward healing. If you are in an active situation of abuse, abandonment, adultery, addiction, or other major crises, please call your pastor or local Christian counselor. While the biblical principles and stories1 we will explore here are meant to provide hope and help to you, I would recommend reading this book alongside other resources specifically focused on those crisis situations.
Read with a Friend
God often uses friends to support us while we heal. Also, our friends can help us with needed objectivity regarding our family conflicts. Sometimes it takes someone from outside the family to offer us truth and clarity. Consider asking your friend to read along and pray with you through this process. Consider meeting periodically to share what God is teaching you and receive encouragement.
Prepare for Action
This book is packed with Scriptures of encouragement and hope, but also action. I pray that as you read, the Lord will strengthen you and enable you to put these biblical principles into practice, so that your family, and the future generations that come from it, will be blessed, filled with peace, overflow with love, and shine for Christ.