Conversations You Want To Have, Part 2 - The Ones That Change History
A couple of years ago I was getting some coaching for my writing, and during one session, we looked at the following verse.
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from
the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors
, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." 1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV (emphasis added.)
It was familiar, but in rereading it that day, I realized I had somehow overlooked that phrase -
"the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors."
If you've been following my blog, you know that I'm looking for principles to help me succeed on this parent/adult child journey. Sometimes God sends you clues from unexpected places, like a coaching session. That phrase jumped out. It made me think. Could it be that we struggle in our communication or acceptance because of an "empty way of life handed down?"
I love my family to pieces. I admire all that my parents have accomplished in their lives. Married at 17 and 18, they are a positive statistic! They have shown me how to persevere and be committed through the good times and not so good as well. They celebrated 55 years of marriage this year! I've watched them grow and change so much over the years, and they have taught me a lot about life.
No matter how great our family is, none is perfect. In fact, I learned in my interviews that those families you might think are "perfect" often get that way by being open and honest with one another and working through a fair amount of family "bumps."
Looking back at what Peter wrote down years ago, it's not surprising that we have some "empty ways" to overcome. I'm glad that God's word alerts us to things that we need to watch out for. I'm happy we can make a choice and change.
One dad I interviewed (let's call him Lawrence) told me a story about his father and another about his son. I believe he changed his family history through a couple of conversations he dared to initiate.
Lawrence realized he had unresolved and unforgiven issues with his father. He had read somewhere that unless we reconcile with our parents, it's hard to be close to our own kids.
He invited his father over for lunch.
Lawrence wasn't sure how to handle their conversation. His choice taught me a lot.
Rather than recounting the pain he had felt for years, Lawrence thanked his dad for every good thing he could remember. He didn't just recite a list but shared in detail about all he had learned over the years.
His father got pretty choked up and emotional. After listening for a while, he interrupted his son and said something like “that’s nice of you to say, but I’m sure I did some things that really bugged you, too.”
They talked, and it was good.
Gratitude in the face of hurt feelings can be difficult to muster, but in this case, it opened the door for a discussion that produced profound healing in the hearts of both father and son.
That conversation marked the beginning of a time of peace in their relationship.
That's not all...
It gave Lawrence the courage to reach out to his son.
While there wasn't much conflict in their relationship, Lawrence sensed things weren't as good as they could be. Lawrence told his son about the discussion he had initiated with his father.
"What do you wish had been different in our relationship when you were growing up? How have I hurt you? What can I do better now?"
Those questions were easier to ask, and the answers were easier to hear because Lawrence had seen the healing that came from the conversation with his own dad. The discussion that followed was the beginning a new father/son dynamic. The ability to be honest and open has produced a deeper level of closeness in their friendship.
A grandfather, father, and a son adopted new ways to communicate. A chain of undealt with feelings was broken.
I learned a lot from the 3 hours I spent with Lawrence and his wife. They are deliberate about connecting with each of their children. They haven't been afraid to explore uncomfortable topics. They don't know all the answers. That's ok.
"Our kids know they have parents who love them," Lawrence told me. "We will figure this thing out together. They know our faith is real. It's far from perfect, but it's real."
"Far from perfect, but real." I loved that!
Without open and honest conversations, our relationships won't reach their full potential. It's too easy to brush hurt feelings aside. It's easier to hide because we don't live together anymore. And if we don't live in the same city, it is easy to want to keep peace in the short visits we have with each other.
So here's a question.
How about us? What unspoken conversations do we have in the shower or every time we get off the phone with your parent or adult child?
Lawrence inspired me. His faith helped him rise above his hurt feelings to show his dad grace.
That grace alone didn't erase the pain.
Grace helped pave the way for his pain to be heard, accepted and finally healed.
If this tugged at you in any way, I hope and pray you will find the faith and courage you need. Here are some scriptures to consider.
Proverbs 15:1 - A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 18: 17 - The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.
Proverbs 18: 13 - He who answers before listening - that is his folly and his shame.
Proverbs 25:15 - Through patience, a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.
Luke 6:37 - Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.