When Being a Family Is Hard

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I once read this thing about how family’s are either sweet or spicy.  It made me breathe a sigh of relief because for some reason it felt like this was the first time I was given permission to not be precious.

Not that there’s anything wrong with precious!  There’s not.  It’s beautiful.  It’s just something I could never pull off and it made me feel somehow like a failure.

I felt like Those Moms somehow loved their kids more than I did because they wrote them notes in their lunch boxes and cut the crusts off their sandwiches.  I thought they must have more affection than I ever could and my children were somehow missing out because my heart didn’t ache for them when I wasn’t with them.  I wasn’t spending my time after school drop off pining for them.  I was sort of enjoying the time by myself.  I had moments of questioning myself because their room isn’t decorated with heart warming sentiments or even decorated at all.  At bedtime I would tell them that I’d peek in on them in 10 minutes and then I would forget.

All I could think was, what is wrong with me?!

Until I was given permission to be who we were made to be.  Not precious or sweet, but I’ve realized not really spicy either.  I’ve come to think of us as a more robust flavour.  We’re strong, the lot of us, and we’re sturdy, though a bit sinewy, I’ll give you that.  We’ve got a strong flavour that you can’t miss and we’re not afraid or ashamed of it.  But you sort of have to be ready for us or we may catch you off guard.

The past few weeks I’ve been wishing we were a bit more precious.  More lovey.  More dote on each othery.

Because sometimes being a family is just plain old hard and when it is I feel like the precious family is better at caring for each other through it.

I’d like to blame it on summertime and more time spent in close quarters.  I’d like to blame it on late nights and too much junk food.  I’d like to blame it on lack of structure and the sticky heat but I’ve been in enough counselling sessions to know that blame shifting gets you a total of nowhere.

It’s the little things really and nothing new.  It’s big brother being annoyed with middle’s taste in music and incessant tapping on things.  It’s middle brothers victim posture.  It’s everyone mad because the little always gets his own way.  It’s Dad working overtime.  It’s Mom tired of making dinner.  It’s the garage is always nearly impossible to walk through because of sporting equipment chaos and recycling that never gets taken in.  It’s why were you created that way and my way is clearly better.  It’s your opinion is less than mine and can’t you see that I’m right.  Always.  It’s I want to be in charge.  It’s your way is stupid.  It’s when the sound of someone’s breathing becomes a missile heading straight for your brain and it’s all you can focus on.

It’s 5 humans with sinful hearts living together and let’s not hide behind the beautiful mess gig, okay?  Sometimes it’s just a mess.  Plain and simple.

We’re there right now.  In this place of annoyance and selfish.  In the place of you’re chewing too loud and stop looking at me.  In the place of it’s not fairs and I don’t want to’s.

Matt Chandler, one of my favourite (alive) preachers has this phrase he uses constantly and I love it.  He says, “It’s okay to not be okay, it’s just not okay to stay there.”

So we recognize that our robustness has turned less into flavourful fun and more into mean.  And we acknowledge that our bold and vibrant nature can be all sorts of awesome when we use it to love big and loud and can also be all sorts of gross when we shoot glares and roll eyes.  Robust can be amazing and it can be hurtful.  Our hearts can be beacons of light and of brooding dark.

It’s okay that we’re not okay.  We’ve been a family long enough to know that these things come.  But it’s not okay for us to stay here.

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There’s only one way out of the not okay and it’s recognizing the intention of our hearts.  It’s admitting that we’re wrong.  It’s being able to look each other in the eye and say I’m sorry.  It’s knowing that light pushes out dark and so we reach and yearn and run towards the sun.  We bask in its glow and we let it penetrate deep and feel it warm on our skin and for a few moments we look around and know that even when we’re not okay, we really are okay.  We hit the reset button on our hearts and we remember that we are so loved and so we ought to love in return.

It won’t be perfect.  In a few moments we’ll forget.  In time we’ll be right back in this same place and that’s okay.  Because being a family is hard.  But it’s also amazing and so again and again we will arrive here and maybe the intervals of goods between the hards will get longer but maybe they won’t.  As long as we remember to keep coming back to the light.  Sometimes we may sprint there with all we’ve got and sometimes we may drag our heels and kick up some dust along the way.  Sometimes we might just stand looking and others be barely able to look up at it but be on our knees facing in its direction.

It’s all okay.  Sweet or spicy.  Robust or zesty.  Charred or braised or blackened.

Give yourself grace and know that when its hard, you’re normal and we’re right there with you.

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