Living in Relationships: A Weekly Reflection

By Patheos staff 

A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle. ~ Proverbs 18:19

Family quarrels are bitter things. They don't go according to any rules. They're not like aches or wounds; they're more like splits in the skin that won't heal because there's not enough material. ~ Anonymous

Watch this compelling YouTube spot about “What’s a family?” by the Truth Project.

When I was a kid, I watched a lot of “Brady Bunch,” “I Love Lucy,” “Little House on the Prairie,” and the “Waltons.” All those TV families were all so . . . perfect. Everyone got along, and if they didn’t, within the next half hour, the crisis would be resolved until next week, at least.

And the biggest conflict was whether Lucy would go to California with Ricky, or Greg would go out with Marsha’s best friend, or JohnBoy would go off to college.

Just like my own family, right?

Then we grow up, and our lives get complicated, and we realize that our families are complicated too. I’ve watched a lot of families destroyed by fights about money, or addictions, or violence, or divorce, or just growing apart . . .

I’ve also watched many families strengthened as children grow into adulthood, and their relationships with one another grow and change as adults too.

And then sometimes, a crisis happens in a family that either draws them all together, or pushes them all apart, once and for all, and there is just no going back to the way it was before. Life has changed them all for good . . .

In those instances, I’ve watched people create new families with people who care about them, and love them, and rejoice in who they are and who they have become, even if their birth families never loved them, or cared about them, or rejoiced in them.

Catholics believe in a Trinitarian God: three “persons” in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s a mystery that can’t be contained by words or images or explanations. But what it means for us, though, is really significant: God, in God’s nature, is a community of unity. And since we are, according to the Book of Genesis, created in God’s image, we are, in our nature, created to be a community of unity. We are hardwired for family.

Maybe, as you read this, you are reminded of family members with whom you no longer speak or have a relationship. Maybe you are reminded of parents who hurt you or weren’t capable of loving you because of their own brokenness . . . and maybe you are also thinking about the way you have not been able to love your own siblings or parents because of your own brokenness and pain . . .

But hopefully, even as those painful memories emerge, you are also reminded of those who love you most: some family of origin perhaps, but also those friends with whom you create a new family of love and acceptance and unity.

And in that community of unity, there you encounter the God who loves you always as you are, even in your own brokenness and pain.

Now pray . . .