Top positive review
Reviewed in the United States on July 8, 2020
Rob Rienow has written a number of works on the family, the Church, and how the Gospel of Christ can be lived out in family life. And every one of those works, podcasts, conferences, sermons and resources is important. For those familiar with his writing, Healing Family Relationships is critical and foundational in the way that Visionary Parenting, or Limited Church, Unlimited Kingdom is.
Others have remarked and reviewed how biblically sound this work is, and we would be right to expect nothing less. There are other biblically sound books on conflict in family relationships, and even other works on how to lovingly, effectively deal with those. This book is different in that It focuses on the messy, noisy, painful things that go on after the hurt has already happened. Where Ken Sande's The Peacemaker, for example, has so much to say about conflict, how to leave it behind, assess it, step away from it, and eventually resolve it, Rienow's book is a deeply important complementary work that talks about how to address the emotions and the estrangement that come from families in a way that Sande's does not. If Sande writes as a caution, Rienow here writes as a balm.
Readers familiar with Rienow's previous work will find three familiar and crucial qualities; it is biblically faithful, it is accessible, and it is actionable. There is a clear sequence to the chapters, starting closest to the reader's own heart in matters of family hurt. The first three chapters address the reader's own heart and responses to what is there in preparation for going to another person. Only then does Rienow walk the reader through more "external" aspects of healing in relationships that have been broken by sinful attitudes, words, and actions.
Others will review specific areas of content, but I would personally reflect that the book has been helpful to me in a number of ways in dealing with the heart posture of "How do I do this?" kinds of moments. Chapter 5, Healing Through Acceptance, is an immensely helpful chapter for those of us that may struggle with the question of how to love someone who is still engaged in active sin. What does it mean to try and obey the call to love my neighbor when my neighbor is 1) my own flesh and blood, but 2) living in obvious and damaging sin, yet unrepentantly so? Rienow shares personal testimony from his own family to talk about this kind of decision, and how the Scriptures help us to love freely and authentically, without condoning the sin. For some of us, in at least some situations, that is a really tough question. Further, a strength of that chapter in particular is how it illustrates that loving someone looks and even feels differently at different stages along the way to reconciliation.
In short, this book is so, so important for Christian people and families to consider for numerous reasons. Each chapter has a clear theme, personal illustration(s) from the author and his family, and prompts for discussion and/or action steps. Because no family escapes hurt from conflict, no family needs to be without the kind of real, effective help and encouragement that this book offers. It is in a very real sense a deeply helpful, life-giving breath in a time when hurt is all around and more apparent by the day. My own family has been blessed, encouraged, and grown by Rob Rienow's work here and elsewhere, and I believe that many others can be as well.