Photo Credit: © 2006 Lynne Holder

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Family, Like It or Not

Please allow me to sidetrack for a moment to let you in on some thoughts and feelings that have arisen in recent weeks. 

I talked briefly with Candi after reading her book, Desperate Hope. I told her that I had to read it in bits, going completely quiet to let her words sink in. Honestly? I would go into a funk for a while, thoughts and memories swirling around in my head--about family.

Candi's stories of family touched a nerve. Her family was as flawed as everyone else's, parents divorced when she and her sister and brother were very young, but she and her siblings were close. They played together as children and when they were grown, they stayed close. They loved each other and that deep love was evident in the stories of their childhood and of family time in the hospital, followed by Rick's passing on to "The Party".

My family was as flawed as everyone else's too. My parents loved each other very much, but my siblings and I were anything but close. The fighting was nearly constant, especially between the youngest two, and my brother was the stereotypical mean older brother. I had nothing in common with my 3 sisters, they being girly girls in contrast to my tomboy-ish nature. They played with Barbie dolls while I climbed trees and dreamt of horse riding. Anything to be outside.

As teenagers things hadn't improved much. [Thank God for my horse that carried me up the hills and across the fields for hours at a time. I would escape to my version of paradise.] There was a space of a few years when my brother and I enjoyed eachother's company but that all changed when he began post-graduate studies at Bob Jones University. He got married,  earned a PhD, and settled into the bubble of isolated university life as a professor, the brother I grew up with fading away in the process. None of us measured up to the standard set by the subculture of the graceless, rule-driven version of Christianity in which he was entrenched, and as a result he became the source of much pain in our family. I remember thinking over the years, Who is this guy? 

Legalism is devoid of love and deadly to relationships. It is largely to blame for the slow demise of those among my siblings. What remains now of my parents' family isn't much else but crumbled ruins. I thank God, and take some comfort in the fact that my own kids are a tightly-knit family unit that love and value one another. 

What, I wondered in those quiet moments, book turned upside down on my chest, will it look like when it's my family's turn to get that phone call? Will there even be a phone call? Will anyone rush to a hospital bedside? Will there be prior commitments that prevent attending a funeral for one of us? Will a death be anything more than a legal matter to apply to how Dad's trust fund will eventually be distributed? 

I have no answers. That's how broken we all are. If I'm not the first one to head over to "The Party" then maybe I can break the silence and be the change. 

But then it hits me, that realization--I don't love very well. People in general, or specifically, these people I call my brother and sisters. It's my greatest need, to love well.

Grace where there is none? Bless my adversary? Love where none is deserved? Pretty much like what Jesus did. 

More Jesus, please.

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