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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

How Do You Find Peace When Your Family is Fractured?



In this week’s letter-post: 

-       Setting boundaries—When no is the right (and wrong) answer to family issues

-       Winner of the travel cosmetics organizer (5/14 post)

-       My first social media post ever to go viral

 

Hi friends!

 

It happened a week ago on a Friday night. I was only parked on Main Street for a little over an hour. What could possibly go wrong in such a short time?

 

Yet when I pulled out into the line of cars, my stomach dropped as low as my right front tire did when it picked up an unwelcome hitchhiker—a nail driven right through the tread. Riding on the rim, I crept along the busy thoroughfare until I could round the corner and pull into the empty driveway of a bank closed for the weekend.

 

Women Skilled at Changing Tires, I salute you.  My tire had been powered into place by a service station’s hydraulic impact wrench, and these puny arms were no match for it.

 

Staring forlornly at the pancaked tire, I pondered my options. I didn’t immediately notice the two tattooed young men who had pulled off the street after me. Were they approaching to help or to harm? Who were these strangers, and what were their intentions? What kind of mamas had raised these boys?

_____________________

 

In the opening line of his novel Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy famously wrote: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

 

In the past several months, I’ve been privileged to come alongside women in Norway as well as the U.S. who are embroiled in family fractures not of their own making.

 

I’ve prayed with women lamenting sons repeatedly incarcerated for the same offense, and mothers fighting for custody of their children.

 

I’ve listened to women who have finally broken free from abusive relationships, and others still fighting to find a way out.

 

I’ve wept with friends whose children –raised with unconditional love—are now imposing conditions on their own parents if they are to be in relationship with one another again.

 

Yes, there certainly are happy families, but the needs of fractured families weigh heavily on a pastor’s household. We want to help and to heal, yet often we can only hold others as they weep.  We watch and pray with them while longing for the day of restoration.

 

My wise friend Barb Roose, a gifted author and Bible teacher, is no stranger when it comes to dealing with challenging family dynamics. She recently explained the difference between helping someone out and trying to handle things for them:

“Helping is lending assistance but not being responsible. Handling is taking responsibility. You lose your peace when you handle (or enable) where you should only be helping. This requires discernment in prayer and a willingness to trust God when you have to step back and let people who should be responsible for themselves take responsibility.” Barb Roose

When it comes to responding to a family member’s request (or demand) for agreement or assistance, how do you set appropriate boundaries? How do you determine when no is the right – or wrong – answer?

 

 Certified therapist Jana Richardson, MA, LPC, EMDR offers some guidelines.

 

No is the right answer when saying yes would encourage or enable anything evil.

 

No is the right answer when our health or well-being is threatened by a controlling or manipulative person.

 

No is the right answer when we are returning to an old strategy that has never helped in the past.

 

No is the right answer when we are staying in an unhealthy pattern in order to stay in a relationship.

 

No is the right answer when we may be jeopardized in any way.

 

No is the right answer when we are only saying yes to please someone.

 

And . . .

 

No is the wrong answer when we are avoiding conflict.

 

No is the wrong answer when it is manipulative, punitive, or simply mean to another person.

 

No is the wrong answer when we are avoiding an exertion of energy that we can afford.

 

No is the wrong answer when we are called to be courageous.” 

  • Taken from You Are Safe Now: A Survivor’s Guide to Listening to Your Gut, Healing from Abuse, and Living in Freedom. Copyright © 2024 by Tricia Lott Williford with Jana Richardson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved.

 __________________________________


Now, if you’re wondering what happened on that dark Friday night when two young men approached me at my disabled car, here’s what I posted on our town's Facebook page. They not only offered to change my tire while refusing payment, but thanked me for allowing them to help me!

Within a few days, over 2,000 people in our town of 10,000 had liked the post commending these boys, and 60 shared it.

 

When you catch someone else’s kids doing good, call it out. This world is hungry for positive news. There are mamas and daddies out there who long to know what their children are up to.

 

And when it comes to your own kids or grandchildren – the ones whose life choices sometimes keep you awake at night?  Know that others are praying for you and for them. God has their names written on his palms (Isaiah 49:16).

 

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11

 

Our Father is never more surely with your children than when you are not.

 

With so much love,

Maggie

 


·       Congratulations to Carol C of Wheaton, IL, winner of last week’s giveaway travel bag! 


 

 

 

 

 

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11 Comments


Kathy Briscoe
Kathy Briscoe
May 21

Janie is a beautiful child and special creation of God. Please keep us updated as we continue to pray for her problems with gagging and sleep apnea.

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Simmie Farland
Simmie Farland
May 21

It is so good to see Janie and to be a part of praying for her and the family. She looks wonderful!! I so appreciate those words for healing in our family relationships. Prayer is a powerful tool that God has placed in our hearts...it renders peace of mind and confidence that our Father in heaven neither slumbers or sleeps...His loving watchful eye sees all and knows each and every heartache that concerns us. And so...We wait on Him! He is able...

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Deborah Muse
Deborah Muse
May 21

No is the right answer when saying yes would encourage or enable anything evil.

Saying No can be one of the hardest things to do when you love someone, but need to show them tough love. I had to say no to my sister who eventually died of a drug overdose. Now the pain of saying "No" lingers. It's something that needed to be done but the guilt lives on in me. Praying she knows I loved her and only did it because I know saying yes would have e ncouraged or enabled her to do more evil things. She's in gods hands now and in the long run I know I did what was right. It just hurts my heart.

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carleneellerman
May 21

My Mama’s heart needed this. Thanks for sharing which always seems to be at the most opportune time. Will be praying for Jane!🙏🏾

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behappy318830
May 21

No is the right answer when saying yes would encourage or enable anything evil.

Saying No can be one of the hardest things to do when you love someone, but need to show them tough love. I had to say no to my sister who eventually died of a drug overdose. Now the pain of saying "No" lingers. It's something that needed to be done but the guilt lives on in me. Praying she knows I loved her and only did it because I know saying yes would have e ncouraged or enabled her to do more evil things. She's in gods hands now and in the long run I know I did what was right. It just hurts my heart.

Like
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