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Talking About _____ with Family

We love our families (well, some of us more than others), after all, these are the ones we share holidays with, milestones, and vacations. For many of us, family is everything and our whole world. But families are also a place of awkwardness and "false peace"--can anyone relate? Awkward as in: someone says something that you physically cringe at, but no one counters the comment and then, the moment is gone, and the conversation has moved on. Or "false peace" as in: no one wants to speak up (perhaps about the cost of where the family is vacationing next year), so everyone agrees, even though a majority consensus is in (silent) disagreement.

Maybe your family has worked hard to make sure everyone is heard and valued and conflict is not to be feared, but that is not the average family. We have an election days away; we have Thanksgiving a month away (no one wants to bring up how the portrayal of the first Thanksgiving is skewed and Nationalized) and Christmas two months away (Jesus wasn't even born during this time of year)--plenty of opportunities for family awkwardness and "false peace" to abound, right? How can we share and listen with compassion and openness instead of defensive anger?

Is this a neighbor or a family member? How much relational equity do you have with this person and what is the lasting impact this conversation could have on the relationship? Generally, the more trust and safety we have in relationship with this person, the more open they are to hear us. And vice versa. Sometimes, we don't need to have a full blown conversation--we can just say, "Oh, you had me up to _______ but I can't agree with the rest of that."

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern and at the same time, ask yourself: "Is this a value of mine that is worth speaking for?" Even if we want to, some things are not worth it.

What is the purpose and intent of speaking up? Some of us don't mind a good debate, but if it is coming from a place of ulterior motives (i.e. I want to see uncle Joe squirm or I need to set the record straight), perhaps it is better to wait to have the conversation. Maybe your family has been silent on an issue that you find important to dialogue about and you genuinely want to hear why they believe a certain way. Asking ourselves what is our motive can be revealing...and helpful if we let it.

Sometimes words are not needed. "Actions speak louder than words" rings true in many ways. Perhaps that awkward conversation isn't necessary--simply DOING will create a vehicle for sharing and discussion.  Acts of kindness, inclusion, generosity, forgiveness and faith are often more powerful than talking about such things.

As Paul references in Corinthians, whatever we do, do with love, or it will be futile. This is easier said than done, but again, ask the Holy Spirit to give you His heart and His passion for justice, Truth, and love.  Doing things in love will benefit others more than yourself.
Let everything you do be done in love [motivated and inspired by God’s love for us]. 
1 Corinthians 16:14 AMP

No matter what topic comes up, who your family consists of, and the dynamics at play, may you experience courage and peace--whichever is needed--to speak and do the Truth in love.

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