Bless and Strengthen Your Family by “Untying a Knot”Sep 14, 2021
By John Trent, Ph.D.
Several years ago, a pastor friend recounted to me a pivotal time in his relationships with his wife and children. He was the senior (and only) full-time pastor at a start-up church in our city. As usual, he’d been at the church office all day. He’d rushed home. Started wolfing down his dinner. All before going back to the church that night.
He thought he was getting positive “points” for making the effort to come home. But he wasn’t really there. He kept his head down. Shoveled down his food. Never once engaged his wife in conversation. Never asked what his son or daughter had done that day in school. Like a disk drive out of space, the crush of ministry details blocked his really having any room for him to really “see” his family.
When he finally spoke, it was to stand up and said,
“Sorry, gang. I gotta run. It’s Tuesday night and that means I’ve got to meet with the Elders.”
But as he turned to leave, his daughter yelled out,
“Dad!” Causing him to stop and look back.
“Can I ask you a question before you go?”
“Sure, honey,” he said. “But make it quick, OK?”
“Daddy, next week can you visit our family?”
Heartache flooded this father. Here he was trying to grow a church. Going the extra, extra mile required of any start-up. Trying to set the pace and model for his elders and leaders his commitment to Christ. But his commitment to be “on mission” in his community, was resulting in his missing out on the commitment to be there for his wife and children. They were orphans at home.
That all crashed down on him that night as he stood next to the table. But here’s the great thing. To my friend’s credit, he turned around, sat down, and took out his phone. With a call he canceled his visitation plans that night. And he began the hard work of really “seeing” his family.
“That was the hardest conversation I’ve ever had with my wife, kids or anyone.” He told me. “I went around the table asking each one of them, beginning with my wife, if they felt like my daughter. Did they really think I wasn’t there for them? No one came to my rescue.”
Yet here comes the key part, in his mind. “The turning point for me was when I went around the table and sincerely asked each person’s forgiveness. Then I got out my calendar, and marked out a “family night” one day each week. We’ve stuck to it for years now. That night changed our family. It could have saved my marriage. I’ve thanked the Lord many times that my daughter had the courage to speak up before I walked out.”
What brought change to this family? The thing that moved this Pastor to start bringing the Blessing home – instead of just taking it to other homes? In case you missed it, it was when we made the decision to “untie a knot.” Which is something pretty tough for many of us to do.
Remember what that father did first after canceling visitation? He went around and asked for forgiveness. What does that have to do with untying a knot? I was a Greek major in Seminary. That meant I became very familiar with a verb that is one of the few “regular” verbs in Greek that they use to teach you the language. It’s the word, ‘luo” which is the New Testament word for forgiveness. And what we learned was that it literally meant, “To untie the knot.”
If you’re anything like me, “untying knots” that I’ve caused is really hard to do. To stop. To really “see” how you’ve hurt someone. Then to take the time and effort to “untie the knot.” I played football in high school and wrestled in college. It’s not in my nature to give an inch. Not when I’m driving. Unfortunately, not at home. Even when I know I’m wrong. But in God’s “counter culture” world – strength isn’t measured by never giving an inch. Dr. Darryl Delhousaye, President of Phoenix Seminary, is fond of saying about forgiveness, “The stronger person always initiates the peace.”
Think about our Lord. In Romans 5:8 and the “stronger person.” We’re told “But God demonstrates His own love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
My pastor friend could have turned on his defenses and made a “case” for needing to go back to church that night. But instead he chose the harder path. Being willing to stop. To really “see” his daughter and wife. To drop his head. To ask forgiveness. We don’t lose when we choose to forgive. We gain.
That’s because “forgiveness” – untying the knot – is a great way to bring the Blessing home…
Dr. John Trent is a best-selling, award-winning author and speaker, of books like The Two Sides of Love, the Language of Love, and The Blessing (which has sold over 2 million copies). He is the President and Founder of StrongFamilies, a 501c3 he runs with his oldest daughter. StrongFamilies is dedicated to helping others end loneliness and create genuine attachment through The Blessing.