The various families I’ve known have included quite a few messed-up ones.
Mine included. Whenever I think of my extended family, in particular, I realized that we’re far from perfect. I was never abused by my parents, and I don’t think I abused my sisters too much. But there is a skeleton or two in the extended family closet, and we are not all normal. There is one known homosexual, and there have been three divorces in thirty-something marriages I could speak to. (Who knows how many extramarital, sexual affairs, but I’d like to think not many more than than the couple I’m aware of.)
I can think of three church shepherd families, not related to me by blood, with whom I’ve had fairly close relationships, and that sustained damage from known extramarital affairs. And another near-miss. There are many more of those out there.
Another family has a haughty, exclusive mother who rules the roost and can’t admit how wrong she’s been through the years. Her children are damaged by her damnably false religion; one of the former actually works in a “Christian” religious organization and yet seems to have no biblically based morals, although she’s a decent person. Another family has three divorces, and almost four, among four couples.
Something seems amok with us all, doesn’t it? It’s not that I would recommend that you dwell on the negatives among your circles, but if you stopped to dwell, you’d probably come up with similar figures.
I also think of other families. There was one that had girls and one boy. Some of those girls got pretty messed up. One has very little faith now, and I’m not so sure about another. Another died prematurely, and the wife of another was killed in a car accident that involved substance abuse, as the story went. Only two of those seven are living what I’d consider normal, believing lives. Another family had lots of boys and no girls. Probably only two out of the total of these thirteen children are people I would consider spiritually mature. Both of their families once constituted “pillars,” to some extent, in the church.
Other families, including one I know of more currently, seem to be stuck on themselves. They revel in each other in such a way that makes me turn away in part-envy, part-“pshaw” (or “pfffft,” or something like that). While I can relate to the desire to spend time with another, I don’t really believe that an entire family can be close enough to be “hungry” for time together, and yet I’m slightly envious of the mere familial self-confidence that allows one to suggest such hunger.
Yet other families, including two I’m currently acquainted with, seem almost too good to be true, yet simultaneously healthy and genuine. It’s beyond me how anyone can intentionally have six or seven children and handle family life with a high degree of control and peace. Some have that gift, apparently. It’s an elegant bit of correlative serendipity that one of these strongly believing families works quite devotedly in the sphere of alternatives to abortion.
The best of our earthly families are but dim reflections of the heaven-united family to which followers of Jesus belong. God’s family supersedes earthly family. And that is why — no matter how loving and generous your parents are, or how good your relationship with your siblings is, or how wonderful your family time together seems at Christmastime – we all need to make sure that we are, first and foremost, in the family of God.