Here are our follow-up responses to our anonymous questions received from our November 30th panel discussion.
How do you put a family back together that hasn’t gotten along for many years?
Through prayer and rebuilding the broken bonds, starting with reconciling the differences and areas of division between those that are not getting along. Anytime you’re dealing with emotions and deep hurt, prayer is your compass because it gives you perspective that you may not otherwise have. It also gives you courage to take the necessary steps to act. Because God is the only one that can truly change our heart, we should start there. Getting people to get along is really a matter of the heart, not just circumstance. Circumstances can change and people remain the same. It’s important to also remember that even with prayer, it may not always be a situation that you can fix. Sometimes, God chooses to deal with things another way than we would like. Ask God to change the hearts of those fighting in the family.
However, you can always be the example of what unity looks like in your family. The example of love, the example of caring, and most of all in the case of getting back together – the example of forgiveness. That doesn’t mean that you have to play the role of mediator between those arguing, but when you model the heart of God, people see it. Sometimes a family getting back together also means getting outside help from a counselor, pastor, leader, friend or other family member that can help talk out the issues and find a happy middle ground that everyone involved can get on board with. And that’s ok. Many conflicts and family disputes are over things that are just petty in comparison to the bigger picture, but those involved in the conflict can’t always see it.
Never underestimate your voice and influence within your family. When you model the heart of God, and when you pray, it shows up in everything you’re involved in. Find things, if any, that the family can agree on. Sometimes it takes helping them to see the bigger picture and the other side, how it’s hurting the family, and more importantly, how great the family could be if things turned around.
How do you know if you’re meant to be with someone? If God says you’re meant to be with someone and shows you signs, should you just believe and wait for it to happen?
This is where walking with God gets real because His people know His voice (John 10:27). And the only way to know His voice is to spend time with Him. The old school says that it’s a feeling of you know that you know. Hearing from God is like an inner knowing. When God arranges something that’s meant to be, there is a perfect order and sense to it. That doesn’t mean it’s picture perfect, it just means that God arranges things to our benefit. Remember that God will never confirm (or show you signs) that contradict His Word or what He says. So you can ask, how does God feel about this person and their role in my life? Does their lifestyle line up with what matters to God?
Be careful with “signs” because not every door of opportunity (a sign) is from God. The devil can open doors too and place people in our paths. This is where we learn what’s a sign from God, a sign from the devil, and just our own inner wants talking back. Ask Him – He wants us to come to Him. If you’re sure that God’s saying go for it, ask Him about the timing and what your next step should be. God cares about the process just as much if not more than the result. If you believe God is telling you to go for it, step out.