Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Families craft stories. Curious about yours?

Monthly theme: Curiosity

Reading time: two minutes

Like it or not, our families will talk about us for generations.

That’s the way families work. I’m not sure if it’s the sins of the fathers that get passed on for generations, or if it’s a blessing that we impart upon those who follow in our train, but it’s real.

At our recent family reunion, I was the “Uncle Elmer,” you know, that old guy that a couple generations below me are starting to tell stories about.

In recent years, it’s been interesting to hear my own children reflect on life as the Pastor’s Kids. Some of it has been funny. Some not so much. Some made me wince and say, “Ouch!”

And I expect there are parts of it that haven’t been spoken about.

Some of our best parsonage parenting happened when Carol and I were wise enough to have those conversations with our children while the weird and anxious moments of family life were unfolding.

I’m glad we talked about it. I wish we had talked more.

As I look back now, I can see that we were writing a story. It’s a story that my children will continue to live for many years after I’m gone. It’s a story that will have a certain effect on my grandchildren, too.

I think it’s healthy for our families to talk about the story while it’s being written.

It makes me wonder about Jacob and Esau, or about Joseph and his brothers.

It makes me wonder about me and my own brothers.

I was recently with a group of pastors where this very topic came up. (At Grace Place retreats, we call it Intellectual Wellness: being curious about the people in our lives.) Someone suggested getting curious about family life as it is unfolding, as the story is being written.

I wonder what might happen if once in a while, in the midst of the hectic, stressful, but memorable and joyful days of life together, we’d pause once in a while and ask each other about the story that’s unfolding before us?

“What’s it like to be a part of this family?”

“What are all of you up against when you have to deal with me day by day?”

“How will you describe our life together to your children and grandchildren?”

It sounds a little scary and intimidating, but we’ve had good training to prepare us for conversations like this.

Our training for family conversations is called confession and forgiveness.

As children of God, redeemed by grace, we practice opening our lives to God and to one another each Sunday as we confess our failure to love and serve as we ought.

It’s part of learning to, “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). It’ definitely part of learning to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Family life as a workshop in grace.


Thanks for reading.