Heal a Relationship

Written by M. Larson

“I guess all my life I longed for my dad’s approval,” Cheryl told me, “and I never felt I had it. He never hugged or kissed me or told me he loved me. Often I hoped for a word of commendation when I did something good, but I never received one.”

Cheryl was in her thirties when she wrote a letter to her father telling him how she felt. “What do I have to do to get your approval?” was the most important question she asked in the lengthy letter she prayerfully and lovingly composed. After reading it over, she dropped it off at her parents’ home.

About an hour later she heard the doorbell chime in her apartment. When she went to answer, she found her father standing there. For the first time in his life he hugged his daughter tightly and kissed her. “I do love you, honey,” he said shakily. “I really do love you!”

According to Cheryl, that was the beginning of a new life, not only for her and her father but for her mother, brother and sister as well.

Relationships in need

How many parents and children are estranged because they don’t understand one another? Unfortunately, many people seem unable to express their feelings and may be misunderstood by those closest to them. So for years an artificial barrier can stand between family members.

At least three types of people may be reading this article: those who, like Cheryl, have longed for the love and approval of some family member; those who are estranged in some way from a loved one; and those who for some reason cannot adequately show their love and affection.

Just as Cheryl’s letter opened doors to love, freedom of expression and closer relationships to loved ones and to God, you may accomplish the same thing in your family by writing a letter.

It may be a letter to a husband, mother, sister, son, or friend, expressing sorrow over a rift and asking forgiveness for anything you might have said or done that contributed to the breach. I know one woman who would give anything if she could go back in time and write such a letter to her sister, who died while they were estranged.

Here are some suggestions for writing a reconciliation letter:

  • Pray first. When we have been hurting for years because of a seemingly estranged relationship, we may get bogged down in self-pity. We definitely need the Lord’s guidance in writing a letter like this. Pray that the Lord will lay on your heart just what you should say and what you should not say.

  • Pray also for the one to whom you write that the Lord will work in his or her heart and will use that letter for His purpose and glory.
     
  • Ask the Lord to help you to write in love. You are going to have to be explicit about some things, perhaps mentioning particular areas of estrangement or misunderstanding. Whatever is written must be done in a spirit of love and humility, along with a willingness to confess where you may have erred.
  • After writing the letter, put it aside for the night and prayerfully read it over the next day. If anything you have written troubles you, consider whether you really want to include it. Remember, you don’t want to hurt; you want to heal.
     
  • Write the letter–and send it. Procrastination often robs us of the peace and joy we might have through forgiveness and reconciliation. If we have done all we can to repair a relationship, then we can rest in the peace that passes all understanding, which God has promised to those who trust Him and seek to do His will.

Psalm 34:14 says, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (NIV).

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