Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What We Need

You know...no family is perfect. Not even the best ones.

Not even yours.

Not even mine.

If you get to know people long enough...and are able to talk to them about their families, it will explain a LOT about why they are the way they are.

I've written about my family...about how my parents were raised, and how they raised us. I feel like I am far removed from both ways. I'm not nearly as reserved as my Dad's side...but I'm also not as open as my Mom's side. And Jim's mom and dad were raised differently as well, but family is important to all of us.

We don't get to pick our families. We know that. And sometimes in some families things are hard...even unbearable. It makes my heart hurt to hear of these situations.

But, more often than not, we are raised fairly normally, whatever that is. Yet even our "normal" families can have their share of problems.

I think you really see it after you have kids of your own. You think about how you were raised and how you want things to be different. Or that you want things to be the same. And you hear about your friends' parents taking their entire families to Disney World or on a ski trip...and how their holidays are right out of a Hallmark commercial, complete with hot chocolate and football in the backyard and everyone smiling at dinner...and MAN, you wish YOUR family did things like that.

Or maybe your friends have parents who keep their kids on a regular basis. Or occasionally so you can have a date night, or go on a weekend trip. And yours don't...or won't...or can't...or they live too far away.

I think it's easy to look at other families and wish you had the relationships they have.

The relationships you THINK they have.

The ones they portray to the world.

But, you know, some people are selfish....they were that way as kids, they were that way as parents...don't expect things to be different when they have grandchildren. Maybe they don't think they are being selfish at all. Maybe they may feel like they've worked hard and now is their "me" time. They love their family in their own way, and will fit you in when they can...and they are fine with that. They would be hurt if they knew how you really felt. Maybe it's the way their family does things. Maybe it's the only way they know.


They can be a real buzz killer.

But I think that people can only do what they can do...what they WANT to do. And fretting and stewing over it and wishing things were different...is only going to hurt YOU. You can't make people be a certain way, any more than they could change YOU if they wanted to. It's just not going to happen.

Now, YOU can change YOU...with God's help. But even that won't change your past...I wish I had been a better daughter, sister and friend...but it can change your future. HE can change your future.

There may always be things that bug you about your family, or certain family members...or maybe you are one of those where everything is perfect! Or maybe you are one of those where family equals all manner of horror. I don't think you owe anyone "family time" in those types of situations. Our number one priority as parents is to protect our children from harm, in as much as it depends on us...and so if there is a history of any type of abuse, I say, "run Forrest run."

We were talking with friends recently...Godly and God-fearing and God-honoring friends...and their family is so messed up! How in the world those two came out of that mess I will never know.

Oh, wait...GRACE. God's grace.


That's how we all come out of the mess that is our lives...

These friends are frustrated with the level of support they get from their parents...especially when it comes to them as grandparents. I just suggested that they are going to have to accept that it is what it is. No more, no less. And for the most part, they have. They have (wisely) made a genuine effort to find friends of different ages to be their "family." They have several couples who are older...who can be sources of wisdom and encouragement in their lives when they aren't getting that from their own families.

My best friend, Stacy, gave me a sign that I have in my kitchen. It says, "friends are the family we choose for ourselves." I have a good family that I love, but they all live far away...so our friends have stepped in and stood in the gap for us many, many times...like family.

In those times, it's just what we need.

"...put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." Colossians 3:14

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