Faith in Action

In the new year, let’s resolve to treat one another decently, heal old family wounds

Brad Bloom
Brad Bloom HiltonHead

The new year has arrived and the question now is what resolutions do we consider making — and keeping — this year?

How many of us decided to join a gym or begin a new exercise regimen?

How many decided to embark on a new diet?

How many of us made a resolution regarding our relationships with estranged family?

When I asked a few people what they were hoping for in 2019, I heard responses like, “Well, I hope, of course, for good health and that I’ll be here by the end of the year. But what I really want most of all is peace in my family.”

But what does that mean?

The folks I spoke with answered that they hoped relationships with family members improved and that they found a pathway where relatives could speak cordially and respectfully with each other. One person, up in years, commented, “If my family members could come together that would be the greatest gift of all. My mother, of blessed memory, would smile on high if she could see that kind of unity in the family.”

Eliminating hurt feelings, grudges, and hurtful and antagonistic speech is not only a prayer that we would love to see answered in our country’s political discourse. Why not include it as a resolution with our own extended families? Let’s face it. Politics in families and in our system government are not that different from each other. It’s always personal.

Years ago, when extended families lived in the same community, they saw and lived near each other. When conflict aroses, there were many opportunities to resolve that conflict face to face.

Today, we are scattered all over the world, so making amends is harder. How does one effectively solve deep-seeded problems through texts, emails, FaceTime, Skype or phone calls?

The truth is that it is sometimes jasier to walk away, ignore the problem or just let the resentment linger for years and basically write off the troublesome relationship.

Some say they don’t want the aggravation of dealing with family drama that never seems to end, so they choose to avoid those conversations. People say to me,”I’m too old and I don’t want to deal with that person anymore.”

The anger and hurt become embedded into the mindset and we just get used to the alienation rather than figuring a way to make a change. The danger is that those hurts can cause our extended family to shrink until it is no more.

I have a suggestion for a New Years resolution on this dilemma. Suppose we committed to one day a week to refrain from engaging in hateful speech about anyone, including relatives?

Do we have the discipline to hold back the arrows of vindictive speech even if it was only once a week?

The Bible tells us in the Book of Psalms:

“Who of you who loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech. Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it.”

Just imagine if we started with one day of no hateful speech. Is it possible that we could build on it to two days a week and more, until we stopped that kind of behavior completely?

Isn’t this a reasonable and constructive way to show the next generation a good example of how people are supposed to behave?

Isn’t that what religion should be about — to not only be reverent before God but also before human beings?

So Happy New Year and be careful out there with your words.