Conflict In The Family: 4 Lessons From Maundy Thursday


Conflict In The Family: 4 Lessons From Maundy Thursday
Finding peace and wholeness in the midst of family conflict, by drawing on Maundy Thursday lessons.
If you are like most people, you experience some form of conflict within your family whether it is just two of you, involves children or even the extended family.  Sometimes this conflict can be  just in the situation, but there are also times that it runs deeper.  There are even times that trust has been severely broken and you do not trust whether another will live up to the support that they talk about or whether another will directly do you harm by betraying you.  So, what should you do when you find yourself in such a spot?
Maundy Thursday is the day in Holy Week that Christians observe the Last Supper.  The joy and praise of the entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday has faded (even quicker than we think about on Ash Wednesday) and Jesus is dining with his disciples talking about the end of his life being near.  These disciples are the ones who have journeyed with him for the last few years.  So what are the lessons that Maundy Thursday gives us about conflict?
  1. Sit down together - share a meal. -- Valuing each other enough to share time together and to observe traditions together is important.  This can provide common ground for the future.
  2. Acknowledge the conflict and problems, but don't dwell on them. -- Sometimes when we are gathering for a family celebration, we try to pretend that the conflicts don't exist.  In stead, if we acknowledge them, some of their power is taken away, especially if we do not allow them to dominate by balancing them with other topics and interactions.
  3. Serve each other. -- In that upper room, Jesus washed everyone's feet and served them around the meal, whether they were in conflict or not.  Such service can remind us of how we care for the other.  Remembering how we are bonded together does not get us past the challenges but can provide us hope for addressing the problems that exist.
  4. Provide for the future. -- Memories and new traditions can help during the journey forward - both during the interim when things are worked out and over the longer haul as a new or restored relationship takes place.

You can find hope around your family conflicts and begin the journey to move beyond the conflict. It is possible to take the lessons of Maundy Thursday and begin the process of relating to each other in new ways. This strategy works by opening up the possibilities for the future while still being honest about where you find yourself and where you have been. You can try it out during this Holy Week and holiday season or whenever you are challenged by your conflicts. It is possible to use this to help you find wholeness and peace.

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Article contributed by
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The Rev. Christopher Smith

Marriage and Family Therapist

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith, LMFT has served as a national leader around mental health issues both within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in professional counseling organizations.  He works directly with individuals, couples, families and supervisees as the Clinical Director of Seeking Shalom in New York City.  He also brings his insight to help a wider audience through writing, speaking and consultations.

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: LAC, LMFT, LMHC, MDiv, MS, SAP
Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Forgiveness, Spiritual
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