We just returned from southern Indiana and my family reunion. Let me start by saying that a drive that takes 5 hours without any stops (and trust me, we make LOTS of stops) was way harder physically than I expected, but I am so very thankful I made the trip! I got to see my father (been a few years), and aunts, uncles and cousins, some of whom I haven't seen in decades, and others I didn't even know I had!
One thing that struck me was that although we didn't really know a lot of the people, the common bloodline connected us in a way that made conversations easy and enjoyable. There were plenty of laughs, and hugs, and stories. This just has me thinking about family, and what that really means. You know I am getting more sentimental as I get older! :)
Sharing the same heritage connects us in a way that is difficult to explain. Have you ever stepped into an elevator full of strangers? I think we all know how quiet and uncomfortable that can be. When you are with relatives, that awkwardness seems to disappear. We feel a level of comfort that we don't have with strangers.
I also have learned that family relations can be difficult. We don't choose our family. This means that there will be people that you wouldn't necessarily choose to be friends with, but because they are family, you work to overlook their annoying habits, personality quirks, and other things that would normally drive you crazy. Family members can hurt you more deeply than strangers can too, because of the emotional connections we share.
Last night, I was thinking about the church. The Bible says that followers of Jesus Christ are adopted by God, making us brothers and sisters in Christ. When we walk into a Bible teaching church, filled with followers of Christ, there should be a level of comfort and connectedness like I felt at my family reunion. We share the same bloodline- that of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who shed His blood for us. Like our "birth" family, there can also be trying situations and difficult relationships with our church family members.
Unfortunately, families dissolve and fight. People get divorced, siblings argue and don't speak, and churches split apart. Why? That has been what I have been thinking about since this weekend. The most obvious answer to me is that we are all sinners. We can be selfish. We can set our expectation of others so high, that they can't possibly live up to them, and then we get disappointed and angry. Chad and I joke a lot about this actually. Long ago, God helped me to realize that the majority of our arguments were due to me expecting Chad to be and to do things he isn't capable of being and doing. In a lot of ways, I expected Chad to fill roles that only the Lord can. When God graciously revealed that my own selfishness was at the root of it, I set my expectations lower. I told Chad that I need him to work and provide, as God allows, and I will be content with that. I started to do all the things that I am capable of doing, and took my struggles to God in prayer. Very quickly I realized that I spend most of my days very content, and when Chad exceeded my expectations (which was easy to do when you just expect him to work), and he did something I wanted him too, I became grateful and told him so. Previously, I was just nagging constantly, and telling him he isn't doing enough. We fought a lot and it was damaging the intimacy that a married couple share.
So, what is the point of all of this? I guess I was thinking about what a great time I had this weekend catching up with relatives. I was also reminded of churches that I have been to that are unfriendly, and unwelcoming. It made me think that because of the shared bloodline- whether it is through your mother and father, or you are a believer connected through Christ's shed blood- we need to pray. Pray that we can be forgiving and that others will forgive us. Pray that we extend grace to others, and they will do the same. Pray that God would show us our own sinfulness before we dwell on the sins of others.
I will let you down. I will fail to do what I ought to do, and do things I shouldn't. I will upset you, say things I shouldn't and disappoint you. I hope that as family members, we can talk through our issues, give each other the benefit of the doubt, and offer grace and forgiveness. May we always be remembering that through Christ, God forgave us and has extended a large amount of grace to us, and we ought to do the same.
The older I get, the more important my family is to me, both the church family I see frequently, and the one of my heritage. There isn't anything I wouldn't do to help my family in need, and I pray for y'all. (For my southern girls!)
~Until next time,