"Love is patient, love is kind..." We tie those words to heartwarming thoughts of people we adore. We're more inclined to take the "tough love" route when people frustrate us or when we're critiquing ourselves. That becomes a tricky slope when dealing with family, depending on how we view "unconditional" bonds. We push them too far, taking them for granted, or we push ourselves too hard to keep the peace. In those moments, we need to remember what God says about love and that it applies to every type of relationship. Not only is love patient and kind, but also "It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8God's love clearly defies society's knee-jerk reaction to cut ties with anyone who hurts us. However, the Bible shows us that boundaries are important, and keeping "no record of wrongs" doesn't mean ignoring harmful actions. We can stand up for ourselves and strengthen relationships in ways that are loving, not prideful. We can also recognize cases when family members break trust to a point where the relationship is irreparable for the foreseeable future. God calls us to forgive in our hearts, whether it's a mild annoyance or a situation where we may never see the person again. What does it look like to navigate this spectrum in action? Process your feelings. If a family member has wronged you in a deeply impactful way, seek support to help you decide if it's safe to spend time with that person. If you struggle with general family disagreements or unhealthy habits from certain members, start by letting them know you want to address the issues because you care about having them in your life. If the person is someone you live with, make sure they know your anger or disappointment will not equal abandonment, as that fear will hold back honesty. Avoid deflecting. Projecting your insecurities onto the people you're most comfortable with comes naturally. You can ask for respect without getting defensive about how you may have affected dynamics. The "It doesn't matter 'cause you did so much worse" attitude never ends well. An outstretched hand is not a crutch. One of the most helpless feelings is when a loved one keeps choosing a harmful path. Enabling unhealthy choices isn't love, but standing by with encouragement is. You can let someone know you won't give up on them while acknowledging that you can't give and give from an empty cup. Pick your words, not battles. There are definitely some annoyances that just aren't worth mentioning, especially with people that you've known your whole life. It only takes a little pause to discern whether a topic will cause more hurt than it will heal. At the same time, bottling things up leads to battles, which is avoidable. Our first instinct is often a passive-aggressive or accusatory approach, but that only builds up the tension. Instead, a simple, thoughtful sentence will more likely urge someone to think objectively about how they affect you. Family can be more careless around the people who are always there because it feels safe. Enacting self-control in the face of conflict will influence others. It's not about pushing down your emotions or acting as a scapegoat; it's communicating in a timely and Godly fashion. Know that God loves you and your family. You were created for connection, and family is a precious design. Following Jesus means putting love before your immediate feelings while also prioritizing solitude with God to experience His guidance. You have a Savior who sees your needs and wants to help you thrive both individually and in your relationships. Whether it's your parents, siblings, spouse, or someone else, the best way to love is how Jesus does: In the rhythm of grace and truth. Finding that rhythm comes by trusting Him in all you do. Check out more verses that show what God’s definition of love is.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.