The day after the Fourth of July. I am sitting at the kitchen table with my mom while she eats a sandwich made of leftovers. You know I feel sort of thrown back to my prodigal days this morning. Not in the sense that I am living among the swine or feeling irrevocably condemned. Just in the sense that after a full day with immediate and extended family there seems to be this sense of “hang-over.”
Every year on the Fourth of July my parents host a get together for my mother’s side of the family. Yesterday more than fifty of us gathered for a day of food, visitin’, the kids were in the pool and some of the adults were around the table for the family poker game.
Add to that a little extra dose of family drama that has been going on for months, and an extra penchant for offense and hurt feelings if one or another does not show up for the wrong or right reasons. It just has the capacity to turn into a very emotional, difficult experience.
I find myself thinking about what happened yesterday. Two people I loved very much ended up in tears. One because she is missing her brother and the other because she is missing her son.
Others had no clue what was happening, while some were very connected to the entire ordeal. Then there comes the spirit of criticism and comparison. Something that God has shown me I fall into on more than the rare occasion. After spending several days with the members of my family I love so much – I realize that I don’t have to fall into the same old patterns because I am with them.
We have some wacky family history, and there are those who were a little questionable on the front of sanity. It is the way of families – isn’t it?
There is Uncle So-in-so who ran off and got married young, had umpteen children a divorce, a live-in and well a sordid life. Heck, that might be said of me now that I think of it.
Families shape us. Our parents become our first taste of God and either point us to Him or drive us to Him – or even convince us there is no God and nothing good about Him. Our siblings teach us about lateral relationships and how to love someone who is so very different than you. We work out envy, jealousy, comparison and striving with our siblings. They also teach us about family – protective instincts, looking out for each other and standing together in tough times.
Even if you are adopted, you didn’t choose your family. It remains a decision beyond your control. God knew though. He knew who your mother, father, brothers, sisters and all the circumstances of your life would be from beginning to end before one of them ever came to be. He knew what it would produce in you, how it would wound you, where it would leave you and what it will take to get you through it. He planned for it, has shaped you uniquely by it and purposes to create life in others through your experiences.
The only thing you have to do is submit it to God, allow Him to heal the wounds, show you the truth about who you are and who they are, and ultimately how He wants to use it in your life and the lives of others to reveal Himself and His glory.