Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dealing with Family Problems (we all have them!)

James 3:18 And the harvest of righteousness (of conformity to God’s will in thought and deed) is [the fruit of the seed] sown in peace by those who work for and make peace [in themselves and in others, that peace which means concord, agreement, and harmony between individuals, with undisturbedness, in a peaceful mind free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts].

I have a family heritage that is quite unusual: we all LOVE being around each other. My sister Diane put it well:

speaking of family...i seriously have the most amazing-est family on earth. we total 44 in immediate fam (almost 45 on 2/19)...when we are together there is no place i'd rather b. a true family where we may not all agree on things but each of us KNOW the other has our back. it's ALWAYS a trip to b together, and my rides home from a fam gathering often include my cheeks hurting from laughing and tears of gratefulness. (WHAT A CRYBABY)

Yes, it would be almost virtually impossible to know what it is like being in our family.  We always said we don't have ONE mother and ONE father but if you do something below our family values, BELIEVE ME you will have your phone ringing and EVERY SINGLE BROTHER AND SISTER will be challenging you on it!  We love to be together -- we are loud, we are involved intrinsically and sometimes overwhelmingly, we feel each others' pains, and rejoice with each others' joys.  We fight over holding babies, and have passionate arguments over who will be in the Christmas draw and how old people should be to get in on the Easter egg hunt.  

We don't always agree on things.  Some of us live different lifestyles than others.  But like a good puzzle, where the parts that stick out fit neatly into the pieces where that part is lacking, together we make an amazing incredible picture of love.  At times when my husband could have doubled or tripled his salary with a move, it wasn't even considered.  Many times when we have asked ourselves, "WHY do we live in Michigan???!!!"  at the next family gathering, the answer shouts loudly "FOR THIS!!!"  

THIS FAMILY is woven into each fiber of our beings.  It is part of who we are.  "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" doesn't even compare!!!  Our family is WHO WE ARE.  You simply just cannot be happy if someone has something lingering against you.  You simply just cannot be happy if you have something lingering against someone.  You just HAVE to deal with it and move on!

Which leads me to the "marriage vitamins" part of this beautiful memoir...

When Amber came into our family, I knew my heart was instantly sealed to hers when Jesse was having an issue with someone in our family, and there seemed to be enough justification to fracture the relationship.  But remember, fractured relationships cannot exist in our family!  And even though Amber is an only child, with the wisdom she is consistently exhibiting, she told Jesse to hang on, forgive, and remember that the person would always be his family, would probably pull out of it, and to be careful not to ruin this long-standing relationship.

A WISE spouse will ALWAYS BUILD FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS.  Never try to undermine your spouse's relationships with their family!  Don't just "agree" when there are misunderstandings (as there ALWAYS WILL BE). 

A wise friend/counselor/husband/wife will ALWAYS seek relationship reconciliation (after all, YOU are also in a close relationship with someone - why would you counsel FRACTURED relationships when that counsel could virtually be applied to YOU if it were to be "practiced" on a much longer-standing relationship?!)

At one point in our marriage, because of some severe misunderstandings with my husband's family, they had some huge problems with us.    It would have been easy to "feed" division -- my husband could have been influenced by me to turn his back on his family.  Instead I loved them, truly loved them with God's love, regardless of how I was treated, and now they are serving God and we are closer than ever to them!  How foolish I would have been to try to separate my husband's heart from his family!

How foolish to actually try to take my husband away from part of WHO he is:  his family.  How foolish to think I could have still had the same person for my husband if I had contributed to trying to separate him from his family's heartbeat!  Not only does this go with PARENTS, BUT with siblings as well!  I have always taught my kids that your siblings are there when you are born and there when you die and everything in between -- they're usually the only ones around for your entire life!  With that kind of long-standing, it is wise for spouses to encourage peacemaking within families:  Matthew 5:9 Blessed (enjoying enviable happiness, spiritually prosperous— with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they shall be called the sons of God!

1 Peter 3.11 tells us if we want to ENJOY LIFE and have GOOD days, we need to for peace (harmony; undisturbedness from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts) and seek it eagerly. [Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellowmen, and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!]

No WONDER that one of the six things that the Lord hates, that are an abomination to Him, is "he that sows discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6.19).  The Message puts it "a troublemaker in the family," and God's Word says, "a person who spreads conflict among relatives."  Not only does it not work for US, but God HATES IT too!

Challenge:   Sow peace and harmony with your spouse and his/her relatives!  Look for ways to make familial relationships better.  Be an advocate and mediator when your spouse runs into bumpy times with his/her siblings or family.  And then ENJOY the FRUIT of your labors when you partake in the blessings of keeping a close-knit family in spite of not being perfect!  (Psalm 133.1; Psalm 68.6; John 17.22)(see also this blogspot on peacemaking in the family!)

1 comment:

Gabe ♥ Hannah said...

great great blog mom!!!! you describe our family sooo perfectly... and beautifully!!! we have the envy of others... but it doesn't happen w/out hard work... you are amazing! xoxo this would be a great chapter in your book!