Healing Family Relationships: A Guide To Peace & Reconciliation, by Rob Rienow
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
It is unsurprising that a book like this exists. Many of us, and I speak for myself as personally here as with regards to anyone else, come from backgrounds of broken and deeply divided relationships, and probably do not do as good a job at possible in overcoming those. The principles in this book are somewhat straightforward, but nonetheless are very powerful and are certainly applicable to areas far outside of family relationships to cover matters of restoring trust and relationships within and between institutions and communities as well. Indeed, this particular book, though very short, has a lot of tough things to say and not all readers are going to be receptive to its message. I know at some parts I felt a bit of pushback to what the author was saying and I suspect that will be a common feeling for other people who read the book as well, especially when it comes to giving advice that the most mature person in a dysfunctional relationship ought to apologize first–but not to overapologize in such a way that it allows for the supposed ‘victim’ to manipulate you. This is advice well worth considering.
This book is a short one at a bit less than 200 pages. The book begins with acknowledgements and an introduction that lets the reader in on the secret that every family is hurting, albeit some more than others. After that the author discusses the power of forgiveness (1) in providing healing for families. This leads to a discussion of healing that involves various qualities. These chapters come along with a fair amount of discussion from the author about his own life and his own struggle in some of these areas with his parents–who divorced when he was a teenager–as well as with his own wife and children. They include healing through: prayer (2), repentance (3), listening (4), acceptance (5), spiritual warfare (6) against demons, boundaries (7), compassion (8), patience (9), mediators (10), and mercy (11). It is likely that the reader will find at least some struggles in these areas, and may be motivated even to read further works about these matters in areas that are particularly difficult. The author’s discussion of spiritual warfare as being an important element in division and problems is also helpful. Finally, the author ends with a discussion of healing through the generations (12) as well as the miracle of reconciliation that happened in his own family just before his father died (13), after which the author provides an altar call for the reader, notes, and some information about himself.
Reconciliation is tricky business. This is because it depends on aspects of communication and behavior that human beings struggle with. Respect, honesty, compassion, all of these are required for us to reconcile with others well. None of these are easy things to do. And the fact that we must recognize that we are sometimes as much the enemies of genuine peace by either providing no boundaries all or being embittered by conflict does not make matters any easier. It is to be hoped that at least some potential readers of this book will not have a great deal to suffer from when it comes to dealing with broken relationships, but some of us are not that fortunate. Given that failures in relationships frequently have generational aspects to them in patterns of thought and behavior that serve to sabotage the well-being of relationships, frequently being better at reconciliation requires a lot of soul searching and painful personal change. Hopefully a book like this can encourage such steps to be made to the extent that they are necessary. It certainly has a lot worth reading and taking to heart.