Have you ever found yourself feeling like you can’t be honest in your marriage? Do you sometimes worry you’re not doing enough in your parenting? Have you ever felt guilty about how you are handling things in your family? You’re not alone and we have some ideas for you that can help.
We know God intended marriage to be “one flesh”. We know what we do as parents matter. That’s why we work so hard to do the best job we can. At the end of the day we want to know we did everything we could to have healthy marriages and successful kids. But what if my marriage is struggling? What if my child isn’t making it? What if my kids don’t get along with each other? What if when my kids grow up they want nothing to do with me? Raising a family can also create a lot of guilt. One of the most important things to master in our marriage, in our parenting, and in our family is the tension between living out what we know to be true and allowing grace for mistakes and shortcomings. A Truth and Grace Family hasn’t figured everything out. A Truth and Grace Family just knows how to live life truthfully and honestly while extending and receiving grace and forgiveness.
A Truth and Grace Family is a family that:
- Acknowledges Truth and Grace came through Jesus. In Jesus lies the perfect model of truth and grace. The example for us to follow – to know truth and extend grace. We have God’s word, the law, the truth… but from Jesus we received grace upon grace (John 1:14-17). Without the model of Jesus it’s too easy to become pharisaical in our parenting or the opposite, to lean so far away we lose sight of God’s truth. God wants us to be more Christlike in our homes, in other words full of truth and full of grace.
- Open up God’s word together. You have to know truth before you can live truth. According to Barna only 10% of Christian homes actually open up God’s word and read it together on a regular basis. If we are going to be a family characterized by truth, then we need to be constantly growing in our understanding of truth. In a culture that embraces acceptance we must humbly pursue ultimate truth.
- Is quick to apologize and ask forgiveness. A Truth and Grace Family is characterized by short accounts, in other words getting rid of our lists of mistakes others have made. When someone does wrong by someone else, they are quick to say, “I’m sorry, will you please forgive me.” It’s too easy in today’s culture of tolerance to simply declare, “that’s just me and you need to live with it.” The truth is God works out a lot of our baggage through those in our family. Often times it comes disguised as the act of asking forgiveness (but that’s for another conversation all together).
- Is willing to extend forgiveness. As critical as apologizing is, the habit of extending forgiveness is of equal importance. People are going to mess up in our families. Our siblings, our parents, our kids are going to hurt us. Hopefully when they do they will be quick to apologize like #3 above. Regardless, we want to be characterized as forgiving people. There is a difference between extending forgiveness and getting trampled on. Certainly there is need for truth to be spoken, but equally important in a truth and grace family is the willingness to forgive.
- Is able to hurt out loud. Truth and Grace Families are able to be truthful about their life. When mistakes are made rather than hiding them Truth & Grace Families are able to be honest. When our kids were young and we heard something shocking come out of their mouths we practiced saying the words, “That’s interesting, tell me more.” The message we wanted to send was simple, this is a safe place to be honest. As our kids got older we practiced saying the words, “We love you and we’re going to get through this.” That way no matter what they called to tell us, we would respond with grace. Sure, we still had some truth to journey through, but we wanted to make sure we were full of grace in those initial moments of crisis or storm.
- Practices humility. In a sports saturated culture, humility isn’t a character quality we witness much of. When we see the truth of who we are it makes it easier to be humble in our families. Being humble allows us to be graceful in how we treat others.
- Speaks the truth in love. Ephesians reminds us, “Speak the truth in love.” Ignoring the faults of others might seem like grace – in reality it’s very unloving. Those we love the most need to help us identify those places in our life where we need growing. That sometimes requires hard truths to be spoken. But grace requires us to speak those truths in a loving and caring manner. This includes those times we disagree with each other. We must still speak the truth in love.
- Ruthlessly eliminates sarcasm. I (David) still remember the time early in our relationship. I knew this was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. We were already way down the “getting married” road. One night we were at my parent’s house visiting my family. Kelli pulled me aside and said, “I don’t think I can do this.” I remember asking her what she meant. She said, “it hurts my feelings when you guys make fun of me.” It was like a slap in the face. It was the first time I realized my humor, was hurting someone I loved. The root work for sarcasm is sarkázein, which means the ripping and tearing of flesh. Not exactly a characteristic of a Truth and Grace family.
- Refuses to gossip. When there are hard things to be said, a Truth and Grace Family will lovingly say them, but only to the person involved or at the very least a person who can do something about it (i.e. parents). Otherwise we end up talking behind people’s back and complaining to everyone except the person the complaint is about. It matters not whether the gossip is true – grace limits who we can talk to about that truth.
- Is committed to growth. Relax, this isn’t about having eleven kids!!! Rather it’s an acknowledgement of how much God wants to use our family to grow us. No one out there knows us like our family. We can pull the wool over the eyes of our friends and co-workers. But our spouse, our kids, our siblings, and our parents know what’s going on. A Truth and Grace Family creates the perfect environment to lovingly expose those places where we have struggles and then to gracefully love us as we grow into the person God wants.
Thanks for reading our blog today. We want to help more families. We would love it if you would share our blog with your friends. Also, we will be launching a podcast in January. What topics would you most like to hear about?