Yesterday’s post spoke of the dichotomy between kindness and society’s current penchant for hostility and hate. Something that has existed much longer than our present situation, much longer than the impact of social media, is the estrangement between parents and children.
Even when the relationship is good, there is a tension between parent and child that raises its head from time to time. That’s natural. Children usually want to pull away from parents at some point, have their own freedom, make their own decisions. Parents have a hard time letting go. Most parents want their children to be independent, but they still want a path to parental shepherding. Thus, conflict is bound to happen from time to time.
That’s not what I’m talking about, though. I’m talking about real estrangement. No communication. No forgiveness. No kindness. Nothing but separation. During the holidays, the effects of estrangement are most poignant. Neither side will give an inch, although deep down they miss each other and sometimes can’t remember what began the estrangement.
I ran across a couple of verses in Malachi, which brought this topic to mind and provided a solution to the problem. “Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents….” (Malachi 4:5-6, NIV) In the Old Testament, “the day of the Lord” usually refers to a coming time of darkness or destruction for the people of Israel. In this passage from Malachi, God says that before the day of the Lord, he will return Elijah to Israel to do something wonderful: unite the hearts of parents with the hearts of their children. I can’t say for sure that this refers to the estrangement I’m writing about, but it sounds like it to me.
And this is where reconciliation occurs: when hearts are turned to hearts. From the time our children are born, we should pray that God will turn our hearts to each other. If that happens, there will still be problems and conflicts, but there should never be estrangement. The union of our hearts will yield kindness and love.