We were definitely off-kilter.
Not sure if it was his fault. Or maybe mine. I tended to blame it on the children, but that might not have been fair. In any case, our family wasn’t where we wanted to be and we couldn’t say where we went wrong.
My husband and I lay whispering late into the night. The soft, flannel sheets pulled up over our shoulders as he shared his concerns and I shared mine. Many were much the same. From different angles perhaps, but similar conclusions. Bickering. Sloppy habits. A lack of kindness and respect. A growing intangible distance.
Somewhere along the way our family had wandered and we needed to get back on track. With the Lord. With each other. And with our lives.
We needed a fresh start.
When? you might be wondering. When did this conversation take place? Was it recently…or a long time ago?
Yes and yes. Which is to say we’ve had this realization numerous times over the years – including over the recent holidays. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t so. I wish we could just get on the right road and keep going from there. Straight-on and without stopping. No wavering.
But that’s not how it’s been. At least not for us.
“Okay, time for a family realignment!” my husband will announce. Ah yes, that time has come again. So we make a large pot of coffee (that always cheers me up) and call everyone together. By now everyone has a pretty good guess on what’s coming. We’re ready for a Family Gathering.
5 Steps for When Your Family Needs a Fresh Start
1. Get off to a good start. Rather than a “dressing down”, lead with a tone that communicates hope and love. Don’t begin with how terrible things are, but about all that you know that your family could be. All that the Lord wants it to be. Let it be a coming along, rather than a coming down.
2. Confess sin and reconcile relationships. Parents should begin by humbly owning up to their part. Give the children a chance to speak up too. Work it out and talk it through. Then forgive and let it go. Don’t let the past define your ongoing relationships. What was done yesterday doesn’t have power over the steps you’re going to take tomorrow.
3. Lay out the specific steps to restoration. While it can be helpful to identify the problems that you’ve observed (and participated in), it’s essential to lay out a plan on what changes need to be made and how you’re going to make them. Include your children as much as possible in the solution-finding stage. Ideally, this should be something of a team-effort.
4. Take one – or two – steps at a time. Don’t try to change everything all at once. Pinpoint the priorities and then begin with those. Maybe a relational step like, “We’re going to use a kind voice around here.” And then perhaps a practical step, “We’re going to clean the kitchen after every meal.” Once these steps have been solidified, then incorporate the next couple of steps.
5. Go forward in grace and victory. What does this mean? Well, if you hear yelling….say, 30 minutes after your wonderful family gathering? Then don’t get overly discouraged (even if it was you who yelled – oops!). Stop. Regroup. Apologize and try again. The Enemy wants you to believe that “nothing will ever change” but that is simply not true. A little wobbling is inevitable, but don’t let that keep you down.
And you want to know something I love about our God? He is the God of new beginnings. The Lord of fresh starts. It doesn’t matter how far our family has wandered, He is ready to lead us back to Him. He will make a way.
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isa. 43:18-19)
So many blessings on your New Year and your new beginnings!
Got any questions? I’ll answer if I can. And how about you? What do you do when your family needs a fresh start?
In His grace,