family, redefined.

“Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me.”               
                                                            –Jesus, by way of Matthew 10:34-37

i’ve been very hesitant to share a big portion of what the training school is bringing up in me, mostly due to how my audience might perceive it.  i’m coming to see, tho, that sharing my struggle not only frees me to find healing, but encourages others to seek it as well.  so here goes…the not so pretty parts of my journey.

going back several months, even before the training school started, God began to unearth some of the hurtful patterns my family has revolved in.  this is not to point fingers…i can recognize that my parents, even in their best efforts to love, knew only what they were shown: abuse, neglect, abandonment, brokenness.  and their parents before them.  and maybe even further back; i have yet to really hear those stories.

but being in this class, allowing God space to speak to me, has really accelerated that unearthing process.  about a month ago, i was able to share some things with both my parents about they have related to me, and how i desire/need them to relate to me now.  these were not easy conversations.  but the doors opened and i felt God leading me to walk through them.

paralleling that has been a completely different story being told, as both my classmates and my housemates stumble together toward a sense of “family.”  one very blatant example was a house meeting that we had where one member was able to share their hurts.  it was directly and indirectly related to the others in the house, but was never taken offensively.  this person was not cut off, but was allowed to speak as long as they needed.   they were then reaffirmed of their value to the house and to each of us individually.  we were able to laugh and be honest and, though the conversation lasted nearly 2 hours, we left it feeling reconciled to one another.

i’m not sure of others experiences, but this was not mine growing up (and is still not as an adult).  feelings were generally not expressed without a blow-up argument.  they were not considered as something real and valid, something that needed to be handled with gentleness.  they were often presented in the form of accusation, ignoring the person you were hurt by, or just changing the subject to one that would “smooth things over.”

as a result, i think a great many times, most members of my family truly believed they weren’t valued, or that who they were wasn’t acceptable. 

oh, how your living gets warped when you exist out of that lie.

one thing i’ve been recognizing lately is that some members of my family are estranging themselves from me, for reasons i don’t quite understand.  i got an email this week from my grandmother that revealed that, while these members may not be talking to me, they are definitely talking about me, and my grandmother was apparently chosen to relay the message.

i was devastated by her criticism and lack of support.  i walked into class this morning with that heavy on my heart, and reluctantly shared it with the pastor and others around me.  but what developed was so beautiful.  they didn’t give me instruction on how to respond, or tell me to pray more.  they asked probing questions, seeking to understand my heart more, my desires.  they shared their own family struggles, encouraged me to see also the beauty of my family, and ultimately to love them as Jesus might: unconditionally and with a sorrow for the brokenness they still live out of.

you could call this the Kingdom at work, or family, or community…it has many applicable labels.  i only know my heart feels a little bit more whole, my love a little less prickly, my Jesus a lot more closer.

He is jealous for me.
Loves like a hurricane;
I am a tree, bending beneath
the weight of his wind and mercy.

Oh, how He loves us…

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