Shame or Grace in our Family

Relationships are the core of our existence. They often determine our identities, our understanding of God and our acceptance of self. Relationships will either result in our joy and peace or our stress and angst.

I would like to present two forms of families for your consideration. I think the contrast is so compelling and yet too many choose the most hurtful one. However, since Christ lives in us, it stands to reason we would look like him. The unconditional love and grace we receive from Him can also permeate our personal dwellings called family. Here’s the contrast:

Shame Based Families

  1. Out-loud shaming: “Something is wrong with you ., . .” or “Why can’t you be like . . .”
  2. Performance oriented: “I will love you as long as you act like I want you to.” Failure to perform results in rejection.
  3. Unspoken rules: standards are expected but never spoken (until  broken).  If you speak out a problem, then you are the problem.
  4. Idolatry: Turning to things and people for identity. Acceptance comes from how things look, what others think, religious behavior, what one can buy, etc.
  5. Preoccupation with fault and blame: Overrides one’s own  accountability and responsibility in the relationship.  Form of control.
  6. Strong on “head skills” and weak on “heart skills.” Experts in defending self but won’t break the rule of “don’t feel.”
  7. Empty people. Empty on the inside but look full on the outside.

Grace Based Families

  1. Out-loud affirming: “You are so important to me,” or “I feel good when I’m with you.”
  2. People-oriented: “I love you even if you make a mistake.” Affirmed because of who they are, not what they do.
  3. Out-loud rules and expectations: communication is open and received.  When a problem is revealed, a solution is sought by talking about it.
  4. God is the Source of needs: We receive our acceptance, love, & forgiveness from God before others. Identity is redirected towards God’s care and love.
  5. Responsibility & accountability: not only to God but to those in our relationships. Form of freedom in Christ.
  6. Strong on “head skills” and strong on “heart skills.” Balance thinking mostly for learning, feelings mostly for connecting and  relating.
  7. Real people. It’s OK for outsides to match insides as life is a process.   Adapted from Families Where Grace is in Place by Jeff VanVonderen