When Family Gets Messy

Sharon JaynesForgiveness, Perspective, Relationships, Take Hold of the Faith You Long For 46 Comments

Family can get really messy over the holidays. My family growing up was one big mess on every-days.  Fighting. Arguing. Yelling. Crying. And eventually, a lot of forgiving.

If ever there is a place to learn about forgiveness…to practice forgiveness…to struggle with forgiveness…it is in the context of family. And interestingly, it is in the context of family where the word forgiveness first shows up in the Bible.

Since we’re headed into the holidays, let’s look at what to do when family gets messy.

We’ll start by digging into Scripture.  Come on. You can do it.

In the book of Genesis, we meet a young man named Joseph—the eleventh of twelve brothers, and favorite son of Jacob. He is most famously known for his elaborate coat of many colors. Young Joseph had several prophetic dreams involving his brothers and father one day bowing down to him. Rather than keep that bit of information to himself, he shared it with his already jealous siblings. When he was seventeen, his brothers had enough of this rather bratty brother.

So, one day, when Joseph went out to the fields to check on them, they schemed to throw him in a well, shred his fancy coat, and tell Jacob his favorite son had been killed by a wild animal. Just after they had tossed him in the pit, a Midianite caravan came passing by. Then they hatched another plan; rather than leave Joseph to die, they sold him into slavery and pocketed a bit of money in the process.

Joseph served as a slave in the home of a high-ranking official named Potiphar. While there, he was falsely accused of sexually assaulting Potiphar’s wife and thrown into prison. (And you thought you were having a bad day.)

During his prison stay, he interpreted dreams for some of his fellow inmates. One day the Pharaoh of Egypt had a disturbing dream that no one could interpret. The Pharaoh’s cupbearer, who had been in prison with Joseph, told the King about Joseph’s gift of interpretation.

Joseph interpreted the Pharaoh’s dream and predicted seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. The Pharaoh was so enamored with Joseph’s God-given wisdom that he appointed him governor of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh himself.

During the famine, who should show up in Egypt looking for food but Joseph’s conniving brothers? They were terrified when the governor revealed that he was their long-lost brother. “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!” There were tears all around. Don’t you know they were terrified? What would Joseph do? What would you do?

This was Joseph’s response to the injustice inflicted by his brothers: “And now, do not be distressed, and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you…You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen. 45:5; 50:20).

Joseph did not say, “Oh, that’s OK. Don’t worry about it.” No, he called the betrayal what it was—evil against him that resulted in thirteen years of slavery. At the same time, he chose to forgive the wrong done to him, and allow God’s grace to flow through him. He opened the door for reconciliation and entrusted the matter of justice to God.

Thus ends Genesis, the first book of the Bible. We close out the epic narrative with a portrait of forgiveness that continues throughout the entire Bible, and it all begins with a very mixed-up family. I’m sort of glad. That gives me great comfort. I hope it does for you.

Heavenly Father, family is so messy. We hurt each other and love each other, sometimes at the same time. Help me to forgive quickly. Help me allow every situation to make me better and not become bitter. Help me trust in Your sovereignty in every situation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Is there someone in your family that you need to forgive today? If so, leave a comment and say, “I’m doing it!”

Let’s get unstuck from mediocre faith and take hold of all that God has done for us and put in us! No more spiritual couch potato for me. I’m ready for the mountain moving, giant slaying, bold believing faith that God intended all along! In Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go, Move Forward, and Live Bold you’ll see how to ignite your faith as never before. This book comes with a Bible Study Guide and would be perfect for your fall Bible Study.

And great news! Just in time for Christmas, Praying for Your Child from Head to Toe AND Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe are both on sale!

© 2023 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.

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Comments 46

    1. Post
      1. I keep forgiving my adult (37 year old) daughter over and over and over. She is living with me after working overseas for 10 years, but is a dangerous person. I live in fear every day. I will be moving in 3-6 months to a new home, but am not allowing her to come with me. She fits all the qualities of a domestic abuser. I am currently working with a therapist to get through this very frightening time. I cannot give her any more chances, or forgive her anymore. I must keep myself safe. I am 66 years old and have been through quite a lot in my life. I need to be safe from her. Forgiveness does end at times. I now need to forgive myself for wanting to live safely in my home without the fear of her eventually trying to harm me.

        1. Post

          Oh sweet friend. You can forgive one and still set up healthy boundaries. I am proud of you for doing that. You might like to read Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Forgiving what You Can’t Forget. I think it would be very helpful.

    2. Hi Lynn, I am praying in the same direction. I am asking myself, “Will it matter 100 years from now?” I am letting the silly and sarcastic comments go.

  1. I’m doing it it happened many years ago my husband cheating on me he has passed away but sometime I feel like I haven’t completely let it go

    1. Don’t let your husbands being unfaithful ruin your life, let it go,
      So it does over power your happiness u so greatly deserve
      Peace & Love
      And the greatest of these is love
      Today & everyday forward love yourselve as the Lord has loved us

  2. My daughter lives across the country. A year ago my son in law died. Her grief has been so hard on her. She told me she does not believe any longer. We had a confrontation about God. Now she won’t speak to me no matter how many times I write or call just to say Hi and I love her.. I have been praying for a year now and know it will be on God’s time not mine, I know all the right Scriptures thanks to your words and others ministries to keep in my mind and heart. I know God loves her no matter what! Please pray she will find her Faith and love in Jesus Christ before she gets old. And my husband to accept Christ as his Savior too. Thank you. God Bless your ministry!!

    1. Father God, You love us all the time, even though you know what is in our hearts and minds. You are ever faithful. Mary is concerned for her daughter, who has lost her husband and let go of you. You know her, inside and out. Bring her back to you, Lord. Mary asks that it happen before her daughter is old, but we know that your timing is not our timing. Lead her daughter back to her faith – let it be restored. May her love for Jesus Christ come back to her tenfold.

      I lift Mary’s husband to you also, Lord, as he has not accepted Christ as his savior. May Mary be a beacon of your light and love to her family, and ultimately guide them to you. I pray in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

  3. Honestly- this is the first Thanksgiving I have ever dreaded.
    Just me & my daughter with an estranged family that label themselves perfectly literate…
    I caution who I am bc of who they claim to be. But, I will keep peace for sure.!

  4. I am hosting in our new home. It is our home. My husband (of 25 years) and I are simple people trying to live simply and not in debt except mortgage. My in-laws are the opposite. My father and my in-laws are judge mental people.
    I love family gatherings and my dream has been to host again someday. Here it is. I pray I can let their judgements verbal and non-verbal roll off and not pick them up! In memory of my mom and in the name of Jesus, Amen!

  5. I am doing it! Wow you have not idea what this message means to me to day. I had just said earlier that I did not want to become bitter in a situation with family. I pray God gives me grace and forgiveness on all sides. Thank you for this message. So good, so needed.
    Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving

  6. I’m’ doing it. I have a long complicated emotionally charged relationship with one of my sisters. She always seems to choose a horrible time to start a family argument. (Weddings, Holidays days, etc..) I am praying for strength and Gods guidance and grace to get us through Thanksgiving. She really knows how to push my buttons!!

  7. I’m doing it. Praying that the bitter rift between my daughter and I will reconcile before it’s too late. We are almost on the verge of not speaking because of the tumultuous relationship she is in.

  8. I’m doing it! I will be seeing some of my family members that I haven’t seen in a while for Thanksgiving and we haven’t spoken either so I guess I will be forgiving them for the things they said to hurt me before now. I do try to always forgive since God forgives us over and over. Holidays are pretty depressing for me but I usually just go through the motion. I have my family but I just wish I had someone special to spend the Holidays with as well. I did need this message today. Thanks God!

  9. I’m doing it! I am forgiving myself. I’ve made mistakes and I am sorry! I can’t go back but I will be all that God expects me to be going forward!

  10. Thank you, I needed this reminder. Praying for God’s strength and guidance as I walk through the negative and softening the heart of “prickly” 🙏

  11. Please pray for me today. The stress of my husband’s brother coming from another state stresses me to the point of getting sick, anxiety, etc. Once I even had to go to the emergency room with my blood pressure sky high when I don’t even have high blood pressure. Please pray that I will totally forgive him, and when his name is mentioned that it won’t bother me. I really struggle with this issue. If I shared the history and my story you would understand. I just need healing from this stress right now, and I would appreciate prayers. Thank you.

  12. Thank you! I was seeking help for my hurting heart and this was like healing balm. I went to my children all of whom I’ve been very generous towards and I needed what would amount to a very minuscule amount to help me with moving into my own apartment. I’m 65, retired and just a year ago gave more than what I requested. I was met with criticism of my life to the point I could hardly breathe. Completely shattered my illusion of what I thought was a christ centered family. One child, my youngest who just graduated got a job and relocated to another city extended her arms and said mom come with me until…. Funny thing is this is the child that has jokingly been referred to as “Joseph”. I didn’t think this would ever happen to me. My son has since reached out and extended love. My older daughter who has 3 children whom she is now withholding from me is nursing a grudge against me over this and Lord only knows what. I have always received praises from all three children about what a godly mother I am and have been. I’m healing little by little but still broken hearted. I need prayer guys… Happy Thanksgiving to all!
    Love to all…
    Brigette in Southern California

  13. I’m doing it. God sent this message right on time to me because of a family situation taking place this weekend. I’m so thankful that God always sends me what I need when I need it. To God be the Glory!🙏🏽👏🏽

  14. For our family, forgiveness and mercy are there. It’s the boundaries we must use in order to protect our home and guard our peaceful sanctuary from ongoing conflict, emotional and spiritual. We love them. Praying for our family prodigals.

  15. I did it and I continually do it! 2 of my sisters and I were estranged for about 23 years do to a family issue that lead to court cases. God gave me victory in both cases. Today, these 2 sisters come to my house for dinner, and we all recently went to a women’s retreat, which I gladly paid for them to attend. Jesus heals!!

  16. I’m doing it! Forgiving my son who was so bitter and extremely hurtful to me yesterday. It will be by God’s grace, but by my choosing to do so.

  17. I’m doing it! This message was so timely for me and I appreciate each woman who responded and shared their experiences. My adult children don’t want to come for Thanksgiving and I was sad about this but a friend shared that she had to give her adult children over to God and trust Him for healing in their family to restore their relationships. It is better in God’s hands and He loves them with a perfect love. I will continue to pray for their salvation and healing in our family. Thank you Sharon and God bless you and your family. Happy Thanksgiving.

  18. Wow!! Thank you for this message. I have been praying off and on for decades for reconciliation and restoration and forgiveness among me and my siblings and they and their own families. The troubles run so deep from childhood and appears to be generational. . My heart just keeps hurting. This message is a game changer. Will pray also for those families on this thread that needs healing and restoration of relationships with their family members before it’s too late. Mines definitely needs it. Let’s pray for each other even though we do not know one another. Happy and blessed Thanksgiving. God, please enter this circle and break the chains on hurting families. We need you but realize that you need us to be obedient when you tell us what we need to do and not be afraid of rejection.

  19. November 25, 223 At 2:50:pm

    Always happy to see my family at Thanksgiving never have a problem with seeing them and
    Thanksgiving It’s always a blessing to have them around that day HappyThanksgiving to Sharon and
    her Team

  20. I’m doing it! I have a long history of conflict with my own mother … Nothing is even worth listing out because i made a decision to forgive her a month ago. I’ve been praying for her and about her every time i want to remember those hurts. The main thing that keeps me going is that i want Jesus to forgive me, so I am forgiving her. Thanks for the reminder not to become bitter, Sharon!

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