Words of Hope: Disagreement without Discord

One skill I am incredibly grateful for in my Dad is the peace he had to navigate difficult topics with wisdom and care. My Dad welcomed any topic in the home for Jay and me. As long as the discussion was one of dignity and respect, we could question any topic. We could say to Dad, “Dad, I love you, and I am thankful for you, and I would like to talk about the chore rule we have as a family.” He LOVED this kind of discussion. He would create a loving space to talk about the disagreement. There would be a feeling of peace as we discussed the issue. Sometimes we would get intense. My Dad can be fiery, and so can my Mom, brother, and I. We can get upset and angry. I so appreciated my upbringing because we had relational boundaries in place that we worked hard not to violate. We could get intense but rarely accusatory, blaming, shaming, or shut down. Dad led the way to create this kind of relationship. He taught us to genuinely ask forgiveness and make things right if we went astray. He taught repair by asking forgiveness and changing.

When I was in seventh grade, my Mom and Dad had an intense argument. They usually always asked forgiveness and repaired quickly. But this argument dragged on with both pouting in different parts of the house. I asked my Dad to ask forgiveness, and he said he had asked too many times. I asked my Mom, and she repeated the same. As the time dragged on into the evening, I felt mad at their immaturity. I went through the whole house, took every family photo, and put it face down on the kitchen table. I asked them both to come into the kitchen. They were shocked to see the number of photos face down on the table. I said to both calmly but with intensity, “We can’t eat as a family, we can’t operate as a family, and you both are not part of this family until you ask forgiveness and treat each other according to our family expectations.”

My parents looked at me flabbergasted; they both laughed and then hugged me and hugged each other. My Dad immediately asked forgiveness, as did my Mom.  

My Dad and Mom created a home that could give power to a 12-year- old to speak reason and truth into the space. Through the years, Dad and I had hard conversations, tears, and plenty of forgiveness, but we never stayed in bitterness, cut-off, or resentment. He showed the way. I feel joy that my Dad left this world with peace knowing his relationship with me was full of health and beauty. This inspires me with my daughters to live this way.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” – Ephesians 4:21-5:2