I love the family I was born into.
I love the family I married into.
I love the family my husband and I have created together.
Each aspect of our heritage,
Our pasts, present and futures are so intricately woven together and create a beautiful, colorful, wonderful mixture of lives and worlds.
I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
But there is something that has creeped into my family, on every side.
Silently, like a cancer, it has deteriorated and eaten away at our hearts and flesh,
It has poisoned thoughts,
And alienated entire branches from our family tree.
Its name is resentment.
If you look closely enough into any family’s history,
You will find many indiscretions.
You will find sin,
You will find secrets buried beneath the seal of locked lips.
In the history as it was lived, not necessarily written,
You will see truths that bleed light onto nasty mistakes,
And skeletons most long to keep hidden.
The many imperfect people of this world are what make up families,
Resulting in imperfect families.
I will never understand why people find this so hard to accept.
You have flaws,
I have flaws,
We all have flaws,
Maybe we judge our family members so harshly because they mean so much to us.
Maybe its because they are the first people you ever truly love;
In fact, they are the people who teach you how to love.
They succeed, and you succeed.
They fail, and you fail.
For all of eternity, you are linked together by DNA God decided to have you share.
There are people who are members of my family (all sides, married and genetic) that are estranged,
And the pain it causes is extremely difficult to put into words.
The reason for this distance, simple.
Things have happened in the past,
Some distant and some recent,
That these people could not let go of.
One event after another that sparked an offense,
The offense was never dealt with,
It was allowed to grow in size and potency until it was all consuming.
Anger begot Unforgiveness,
Unforgiveness begot Bitterness,
Bitterness begot Resentment.
And here we are, surround by the bastard children of evil,
Wondering how exactly we let it come to this.
In my memories of the perfect christmases so long ago,
I remember bright wrapping paper,
Laughter and love,
And those giant family gatherings that made the world seem safe and wonderful again.
Once my world began to fall apart at home,
Everything else I could count on did too.
Family gatherings weren’t quite so cheerful,
A smile was etched on every face,
But the eyes revealed a discomfort stewing beneath the surface.
The tension was so thick,
You could feel it when you entered the room.
We laughed tightly,
Even exchanged pleasant banter,
But something was out of sorts.
I felt this hole in my heart continue to grow,
As the family that God gave me,
The ones who were supposed to love me unconditionally,
Continued to slip away.
And suddenly the battle lines were drawn all around me,
And I had to choose a side.
The problem was, no mater whose side I chose,
Someone I loved got hurt.
Years passed, circumstances changed and victories were celebrated,
But it seemed the old resentments,
Buried just beneath the surface for so many years,
Had never truly gone away.
No matter how much I just wanted my family back,
I cannot fix everything.
Christmas evening, my father sat in his living room with teary eyes.
His 73rd Christmas, and his heart was breaking.
He has eight children,
And with the exception of my sister who lives in California,
Seven of those children were within a few minutes from his home.
But my brother would not be spending Christmas with us this year,
Just as he had chosen not to do many years prior.
My father tried to hold back his hurt and pain,
Quietly whispering to me how all he wanted was for his children to be together,
To love each other,
And to be able to celebrate the birth of our Savior as a family.
All he wanted was for the love a family is supposed to hold,
To overcome the past and all of its tragedies.
After all, he doesn’t know how many more Christmases he has left.
I listened to him speak,
I fought back the tears and the pain in my heart.
Because I wanted the same thing.
I want to see that glow of joy in my father’s eyes when he no longer has to choose sides.
I want to see what that looks like again.
I want my Daddy to get his wish.
To spend a birthday,
A Father’s Day,
A Christmas dinner,
With all eight of his children again before he leaves us forever.
I want him to laugh with us,
To tell us stories,
And for all of us to truly be happy without having to pretend anymore.
I want the things that make us different,
And sometimes drive us crazy,
To be appreciated and embraced,
For us to give grace to each other as our Savior gives us.
I want us to learn to let our love be stronger than our fear,
For our love to be stronger than our anger.
I wish we could all just sit down,
And say the words we fight so hard to swallow.
I wish we could confess the hurts and fears,
I wish we could release the bottled pain.
I wish we could let it all go,
And find a way to connect again.
Family is a puzzle;
Complicated, intricate, difficult,
But with pieces missing, it just doesn’t make sense,
The picture cannot be completed.
I want good things, great things for my family members.
I want the tension to slip away,
The wounds to heal,
The scars to fade.
We cannot change the past,
But we can let God change our futures.
We cannot choose the family God gave us,
But we can choose to love them the way God wants us to.
All I want is for the family that I cherish so dearly,
To be able to all love each other again.
Family matters will always be complex;
There will always be pain,
There will always be misunderstandings.
But at the end of the day,
More than anything,
And instead of our anger,
THAT is what we must hold onto.