In my last post, I shared my view of family as the Lord showed it to me. Today He’s showing me why that view is a fantasy. And it’s not because it isn’t true; my family has loved me enormously. They have been a gift to me and I am so grateful for them that sometimes I have to cry because the blessing is too much to take in. But it’s a fantasy because it’s not the whole truth.
I have 3 brothers and 3 sisters. We’re all about 2 years apart in age, except for the twins. There was order and discipline in our house, but we were still a rowdy bunch. When I go home to visit, I laugh because the bedroom doors barely shut. Years of being slammed shut and then pummeled from the outside have left their mark.
We were close. Literally. Two full bathrooms plus nine people equals diminished privacy. We all got chicken pox at the same time. Two weeks of itching and whining with Old Yeller, Swiss Family Robinson and The Apple Dumpling Gang on heavy rotation. For years, toothbrushes were largely communal because little kids don’t comprehend personal property. I think you get the picture.
When we all get together now, we reminisce. And all the things that once drove us crazy are now the things we laugh about and remember fondly. But that’s not the whole story. Kids are naturally cruel. And when 7 are piled together in the family station wagon for an 11-hour drive to see Nana and Pop-pop, tempers flare. No one in the world knows better than family what wounds will sting the most when salted.
In our family (as in many, no doubt), we were utterly vicious with each other, but if any “outsider” did the same to one of us, it was on. We’d go from a 3 on 4 battle in the front lawn to a 7 on 1 chase through the neighborhood. And if you’d asked me yesterday, I’d have told you that’s the good thing about family.
Today I’m seeing it in a whole new light. “I can abuse you because we’re family, but if anyone else abuses you then I’ll smack them.” In essence, one of the fundamental privileges of family is the right to abuse each other. How sick is that?
I don’t want that to be any part of how I love my family. I want God to heal my brothers and sisters and parents of the horrible wounds that I inflicted on them, and I want to be healed from what they did to me. That’s only possible in God – and as we are His.
I don’t want to stand in God’s way when it comes to my family, and idolizing them is exactly that. I don’t want to lose my relationship with the Lord, and worshipping my family will lead to exactly that. My family is not a fantasy. It’s brutal and wonderful, fistfights and hugs, jeering and cheering, love and hate. God’s asking me to accept the reality and reject my fantasy. It’s painful and it feels disloyal and my heart hurts. But that’s just the death. LOVE is coming – for Him, for me, and for my family. I can’t wait.