Mood: Painfully methodical and deliberative…
Weather: A hard cold descends upon the rain-softened earth…
Family. Few words can inspire the maddening swirl of thought and recollection as the word: family. Some of the best and worst moments of my life have taken place in relationship with my family – both immediate and extended.
Whether I acknowledge it or not, much of who I am has been directly shaped and impacted by those people to whom I share some biological or legal kinship. Many of the traits I possess, both good and bad, can find some delineation in those of my greater household… from siblings, parents, and grandparents; to uncles, aunts, and cousins.
That said, I feel that I have certainly had my share of strife… especially in recent years and especially with my father and mother.
Something sharpens the pain felt from one`s parents – in the sense that the same wounding, from a peer or colleague perhaps, might have far less of a sting than that felt from the injury of a family member. I have known perfectly logical and rational people that absolutely lose their reason in their dealings with relatives… in fact, I have too often been one.
My folks probably could have done a lot of things differently (that is to say, better) and I know I could have been a better son.
It`s just that, well, I`ve been thinking about my family a lot lately… no doubt moving halfway across the continent from where they live has something to do with that.
Moreover, I have been considering the evolution of our relationship over time – wondering, in lamentation, about how things might have been better and also, cynically, considering how much worse they could have been.
It was about this time last year when my relationship with my parents fell as far as it has ever been… during which time I struggled mightily with how I should conduct myself with them – not in some vain “tactical” sense but as a witness to the Christ. I began to examine my approach to dealing with them, as well as some of the other members of my family.
My parents had been wrong – sure, they had been wrong in numerous aspects and there remain issues with which we remain in disagreement. However, I came to a conviction that in every way I had been right in principle and argumentation, I had been utterly lacking in love.
I had reasoned my love – that, somehow, by refusing to compromise my principles in estranging myself from them I was demonstrating my love for them. That by withholding myself (and my children) from them, I was well justified with Scriptural proof-texts and airtight reason.
By the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, Apostle Paul rebukes me across the span of years:
“Love is patient and kind…
It does not insist on its own way…
Love bears all things… endures all things.”
I had been patient, sure, I would even argue that I had been kind and compassionate in my tone… but I also insisted upon my own way. I had borne some things and endured others, but had fallen far short of all.
My parents are flawed people, to be sure, but I had neglected to recognize my own imperfection. In seeking so ardently to “win” the battle, I had lost the greater war – forfeiting my testimony and my witness over a bowl of prideful bitterness that turned to rot in my stomach.
Eventually, it was I that re-opened the doors of communication with my family and I still labor to reconcile with them in whatever way I might. Working to show the love of Christ to them in my words and deeds, forgiving them “seventy times seven” times and withholding judgement for empathy – ever seeking understanding and peace.
Though we still disagree on various issues, we are able to maintain a loving relationship without letting our theological and philosophical incongruities irreparably divide us.
We are, if nothing else, family.