What is your model of forgiveness?

By: Elaine Froese

We are a family of faith who farms. We also count our blessings when things are going smoothly and we are getting along. Some days, there is conflict, but it is all resolvable. We choose to talk, express our perspectives, and create solutions without attacking the other person. This can be the culture on your farm, too.

What is the model of forgiveness on your farm?

“I don’t go to church, Elaine”…That is not what I asked you! When conflict tensions have been fueling sleepless nights and your headaches and your stomach is tight, what is your plan to make things better? Making quick repairs is a good way to live and reduce stress.

Just recently I met with a young farm couple who works very intentionally on being emotionally and mentally healthy, even when the parents are hostile, aggressive, and profane towards the couple. Yikes. I have written before that profanity on farms does not pay. I have also written that “culture beats strategy.” Culture is the glue that holds the farm family together, what you believe to be true, how you behave with each other, and how you make decisions.

Why are you still accepting bad behavior?

Where is it written that you need to listen to F-bombs and graphic language that makes you feel horrible?

Jesus is a model of kindness, grace, and compassion. Many farm successors long to live in a culture where grace and mercy are the first line of communication, not judgment and comparison. Comparison is a joy stealer. We need to all be working towards replacing destructive interpersonal patterns with healthy healing patterns.

Here are examples of health patterns, use this checklist to assess your farm culture:

  • Respectful communication
  • Balancing work with recreation
  • Appropriate boundaries (coming over to visit when invited or planned, no surprises)
  • Incorporating appreciation, joy, fun, and celebration into farm life (ham and scalloped potatoes for a family meal together)
  • Eating healthy food
  • Getting enough sleep and exercise (walking down the lane together)
  • Establishing clear roles and responsibilities (using a family participation plan)
  • Showing love and respect regularly
  • Holding regular farm meetings (operational, strategic. All voices are heard.)
  • Reaching out to outside consultants for help when needed. (addiction counselors, mental health workers)
  • Planning ahead (sharing calendar on google documents, keeping folks accountable to timelines agreed upon)
  • Dealing with problems as they present themselves instead of procrastinating. (nipping conflict in the bud rather than when months have gone by)

What is the next step you need to take to incorporate healthy patterns in your life?

If you have found this checklist helpful, you’ve just caught a glimpse of the nature of our online course “Get Farm Transition Unstuck.”

I wish all of you a great planting/seeding season. Every day you wake up and get to choose your path: be a learner and take responsibility for your actions, or be a judger and drag everyone around you in the pit.

I just got off the phone talking to another farming family who is not able to consider transition planning because there is tension between the siblings that is not yet resolved.

Please buy my books to get a new language for more powerful communication. Understand that you are not alone.

Embrace the keys of good conflict resolution:

  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Take the other person’s perspective or seek to understand their position.
  • Be okay with tears and the expression of emotions. Sit and let the silence do the heavy lifting when the right words are hard to find.
  • Reach out and ask the other person “What would you like me to do differently?”
  • Adapt to the changing ages and roles you are experiencing on your farm. Be willing to change your habits. Call ahead and ask permission if the time is right to visit the grandchildren.
  • Reflect on the best language to use with a tone of grace and compassion. Think before your speak.
  • Listen more.
  • If you are really hot under the collar, step away and explain to the other person that you need time to cool down and collect your thoughts. You can promise to get back to them after supper. Don’t let your irrational brain take over when you are escalated.

Book a conflict dynamic profile for $55. This may be a life-changing exercise for you to understand your hot buttons, and seek a calmer way of being. I don’t do well with folks who are aloof or unreliable. Knowing your triggers helps you show up as an adult, not a temper tantrum child.

Forgive one another. Love one another deeply. Cultivate richness in your relationships.

Employ a healthy model of forgiveness on your farm. You can do this.