Conversations You Want To Have, Part 3 - Even When It's Hard
Don't you love a happy ending? I do. Honestly, I really love Hallmark movies. They are predictable, and in less than two hours each story ends with a solution that leaves me content. Real life, however, isn't a Hallmark movie and sometimes the conversations we have aren't predictable...or short.
of this series, we looked at conversations that help parent/adult child relationships develop closer connections. In
we learned from a man who changed his family dynamics by initiating two conversations.
The stories are real. Those families made progress in their communication. They ended up closer.
If you've followed along, maybe you thought of a conversation you
want to initiate.
What if you try to talk and it doesn't end up where you want? What then? Is there still hope?
I know. That's not the answer you were looking for.
"As far as it depends on
, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18b) If you have discord in your relationship with a parent or adult child, the only person you have control over is yourself. That's why "it depends."
At the same time, I believe there is always hope.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13 NIV)
But even so, I've seen that the road toward connection and resolution can be rocky and full of ups and downs along the way. One or two or twenty conversations might only be the beginning of what it takes to make progress in a challenging relationship. I wish that weren't so, but sometimes growth in relationships comes slowly.
Family relationships, in particular, can be puzzling. We live in the same home and experience the same things, but our perspective on those experiences can be vastly different. One person cherishes family memories while another experiences disappointment. One person lives with joy; another lives with wounds.
While figuring out all the dynamics can be difficult, if we are in that place, let's not give up. I want to share a story today that gives me hope for relationships "in process."
There is a mom I spoke with one evening (let's call her Rosa). Rosa has several children and loves them all dearly. Sometimes, however, our love gets tested.
After a prolonged difficult patch in their relationship, one of Rosa's kids asked her not to make contact for a while.
They didn't know.
Rosa said her child felt she and her husband had been unfair when he was growing up. Compared with other children in unflattering ways. Expected to maintain a standard of "Christian" behavior before making any decisions about what Christianity meant in his life. A sheltered life that left him feeling unprepared sometimes. Rosa admitted some of what her now adult child felt was understandable.
Rosa carries regrets and is sad about mistakes she and her husband made.
Talking didn't help. Apologies didn't make enough of a difference.
So Rosa agreed to give her child the requested space.
That space stretch farther than Rosa hoped. She spent a lot of time reading and meditating in the Psalms. Her husband was able to stay connected through small interactions.
When we spoke, Rosa and her whole family (including the child who asked for space) had recently spent a major holiday together. Her husband made arrangements for the family to gather away from the family home- a neutral location.
They had a good time. The family built new and fun memories. Rosa said it was less awkward than she feared.
Sometimes "conversations" take all those ingredients to find success.
I wonder how often Rosa might have meditated on Psalm 62:5...
"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken."
Rosa learned other things besides hope and patience. She learned that while there were some things she could and should take responsibility for, not everything in the relationship was her fault.
That's a hard truth for some of us to accept. We hurt when our kids hurt. We often feel responsible when they struggle. We would turn back time and handle things differently if we could.
But we can't.
Every adult, whether they are our children or not, has to decide how they will respond to wounds - whether they occur during our childhood or after. The Proverbs teach us that "each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy." (Proverbs 14:10 NIV) Sometimes we need space to make our way out of a bitter place.
Our job is to love one another deeply. God promises us in 1 Peter 4:8 that "love covers over a multitude of sins." I hold onto that promise with all my might. Another mom recently told me she worries about connecting with her kids because she is a working mom. No mom or dad is perfect. I don't know any parents, whether they worked at home or away in an office somewhere, that doesn't wish they had done something different raising their kids.
Let's hold on to God like Rosa did. Let's pray and read and meditate, refusing to become bitter if we hit a bump as parent and adult child. Let's believe God's promise in 1 Corinthians 13:8 - "Love never fails." Not love, the emotion, but love - our attitudes and our actions.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV)
Rosa showed her adult child love. She showed patience. In humility she gave space. She was kind. She kept no record of wrongs. She trusted things would get better. She didn't give up - not on her child, herself, or on her God.
Resolution can take time, but as long as we love, we have hope.