Fractured Families

A couple of days ago I wrote about the blessings of family — and I meant that sincerely.  However, in case you are thinking that my family is perfect, and we have great relationships with everyone — well, think again.  We’re no different than any other family this side of heaven.

My father was not a great dad.  He was never abusive, and he loved us, but he was not a good provider, and he was pretty self absorbed and neglectful. We weren’t estranged, and I forgave him, but we never enjoyed the close relationship you would hope to have with your dad.

One of my brothers is an alcoholic.  This disease has warped his personality and his ability to get along with others  It’s difficult to understand the way he behaves and thinks.  Some family members don’t want to be around him at all.

There are extended family members I never took the time to know and appreciate.  At my Aunt Lois’s funeral ( see How Aunt Lois Spent Her Time), her pastor spoke about what a wonderful Christian woman she was.  Evidently she was quick to visit the sick and homebound in the congregation with food and treats, and she taught Sunday School for over thirty-five years.  Sadly, I was “too busy” with my own life and children to spend time with her (although she invited me).

I could go on, listing my own failings and the failings of my relatives.  For now, all of our families are fractured, and sometimes we heal imperfectly and sometimes we never heal at all.  The good news?  As Christians, we get a do-over.  In heaven:

‘He (God) will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

When we get there, we (God’s family) will all be everything He created us to be.  We will not even remember our sinful habits and desires;  our relationships will be restored; and we will have eternity to be with one another.  If family is a blessing in the here and now, imagine what it will be like then!

The Blessing of Family

“Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.”  Psalm 128:3

We had a family gathering this past weekend.  My eldest granddaughter, Katelyn, graduated from high school and wanted to have a party.  My younger daughter, Kate, and her new baby drove up from South Carolina. Hello Hailey #2 We all got together at my niece’s house because she has a pool.  There were between thirty and forty people there, most of whom are related to me.  I sat and talked with my two sisters and one of my brothers, and it felt really good to see them because we don’t get together often.  We laughed and told family stories, and caught up on how everyone was getting along.  I felt truly blessed to realize how many people I have who love me and would help me out in a pinch;  and how many people I have to love.

Yes, it’s true, families can be irritating.  We don’t always agree.  We see the same people and the same situations from completely different perspectives.  In a large family, it feels like someone is always in crisis, and we’ve had our share of health issues, addictions, job loss, grief and disappointment. Life isn’t easy for anyone;  but how wonderful it is that:

“God sets the lonely in families …” Psalm 68:6a

Today I’m giving thanks for mine.  Every last one of them.