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  • Rachel Gardner, LPC

Relationships in the New Year: A Tapestry of Tangles and Grace (Part 2)

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Last month I introduced the metaphor of viewing family systems as a tapestry, full of tangles and needing grace.  Now I would like to share you how you may set this change in motion.

First, we can work to understand the relationship patterns in our family, including the generations before us.  Edwin Friedman may inspire your own thinking about this first item: “The position we occupy in our families of origin is the only thing we can never share or give to another while we are still alive. It is the source of our uniqueness, and, hence, the basic parameter for our emotional potential as well as our difficulties. This unique position can dilute or nourish natural strengths; it can be a dragging weight that slows our progress throughout life, or an additive that enriches the mixture of our propelling fuel. The more we understand that position, therefore, and the more we can learn to occupy it with grace and “savvy”, rather than fleeing from it or unwittingly allowing it to program our destiny, the more effectively we can function in any other area of our life.” (Generation to Generation, Edwin Friedman, page 32-34)

What is your position in your family? Are you the peace-keeper? The stubborn one? The helper? The patriarch/matriarch? The baby? The one who connects everyone else? The one who sits on the outskirts of interactions, but then delivers a good joke just at the right time to reduce tensions?

None of these roles - or the many other roles that you can think of – are bad or good in and of themselves. That’s what Friedman is saying. What makes the difference is how you occupy that position – either with grace, or with resistance and reactivity. The main question is – are you in charge of yourself within your family relationships? Which means – are you being who you truly want to be in your family?

Second, practice seeing (and asking God to allow me to see) where and how God’s grace breaks into our personal and family history. For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-14).

As Christians, we believe that God has a plan for each of us, and for our families – plans for our welfare and a future of hope! But it does take work to sit with the Lord and strive to see His plans. In thinking about our families, sometimes we get fixed on resentment and un-forgiveness, pouting about what didn’t go our way, or we are consumed by pain or grief, and struggling to see where His grace is working.

This new year is an invitation to each of us to reach out again for the hope God has in store for our families, and in faith to find the beauty and meaning behind every tangled knot.

It’s a life-long question and task of course!

If you’d like support to examine the tapestry of your family, I do hope that you’ll give me a call.


Rachel E Gardner, LPC Intern 512-238-1700 ext. 310


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