Family is a gift of undiscovered beauty. When God first created man, He spoke words that rebounded into the hearts of humanity: “It is not good for man to be alone.” So God sculpted a woman who existed with the man in spectacular, exhilarating harmony. Together they were the perfect human.
Then children were made, not from another handful of dust, but from them. All of humanity was grown from this system of nearness and dearness and inner-dependence, suggesting that God is enthralled with relationship, with closeness, with mutual delight. And so are we, from the very heartbeat of our human nature. But who loves their family enough? Most of us just don’t understand how precious fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers are.
I realize that ever since sin happened, family has become a bitter battleground. Fathers forsake us, mothers fail, siblings disappoint. No one wounds us deeper than the ones who know us the best and ought to love us the most. But I feel like this generation is losing so much when we cast aside these family ties. We are wounding ourselves when we take them for granted and struggle to disconnect ourselves from relationship with these people.
The biggest obstacle in the way of loving family deeply is the twisted way we view ourselves. We assume we should be the first in everyone’s priorities. This selfish desperation for recognition has devastating effects on the gifts we’ve been given in life. We have an over-sized self-esteem that expands until it squeezes the gratefulness out of hearts and tramples the gift of relationship underfoot. We view ourselves as more valuable than the small siblings and tired parents, and end up leaving the blessing that they are by the wayside.
People today have forgotten to look for the value in the people nearest to them. Family is seen, not as a gift, but as something to get away from, as if our family is the only thing that’s holding us back from happiness. An anonymous quote on the inside of a candy wrapper reads, “Go anywhere but home.”
This careless and almost resentful attitude towards parents and siblings causes us to lose the relationships given most specifically and intentionally to complete us. They share life with us: the innocence of childhood, the rollercoaster ride of adolescence, the frightening, beautiful journey into adulthood. They are ours in a way we can hardly claim with anyone else.
If we’ve been given the gift of sharing life with a particular soul (or souls), why waste it in refusing to admit their beauty and significance? Why hide from their love?
Surely everyone, in their heart of hearts, wants a good family relationship. We excuse ourselves by insisting that we would love our parents more if our parents had actually sought our love. We wouldn’t have a problem with our siblings if they didn’t have a problem with us. The lack of love in our family life isn’t what we asked for; it’s just what we were given.
We may not have received perfect or even good relatives, but they were given us for a reason. Everyone has been offered the chance to love the people in their lives. We’ve been called to overcome the hate and tension that broke into relationships when sin entered the world. Faith in the redeeming power of the gospel of Christ compels us to persistently pursue these broken relationships.
Drawing close to the humans in our lives often means being wounded by their words and their unresponsive attitudes. It takes letting our pride lie vulnerable, and cutting our own self-centered agendas down to size.
It means allowing yourself to love them more than they deserve, opening your eyes to the beauty of who God created them to be, and experiencing glimpses of the relationship God had in mind when He put the both of you in the same home and made you share a life together.
Only when we are leaning into each other and pouring love into each other, in complete inner-dependence, are we the closest to being whole.
Together, by the grace of God, we are the perfect human. 78