The other day, as I was perusing the myriad of blogs I read, I came across a post by a woman saddened by the annual invitation to the family Thanksgiving dinner. According to this woman, for several years she has longed to see her extended family, and would love to introduce her 3 year old to his aunts and uncles, grandparents, and cousins. However, she cannot go.
The reason? Four years before, on the night before her father’s funeral, she and her sister had a misunderstanding; they haven’t talked since.
As I read her story, my heart broke for her. I know that family can be a bear sometimes (yes, I know you read this). Everyone has moments when family seems like a dreaded hassle more than a joy. Perhaps you don’t quite fit in ideologically, politically, or theologically. Maybe they won’t allow you to grow or move forward from past events or characteristics. Sometimes they get offended or defensive over the smallest details. Often it is simply actual mileage that allows our hearts to grow apart. And then there are those who never seem to pick up on hints about when to come, or how long to stay.
In our world, it has become the norm to be guarded, defensive, and cautious. Holding in one’s feelings, hiding hurts, and feigning strength are commonplace. Sometimes viewed as pride, self-reliance, or independence, usually the source is truly fear of being hurt, alone, vulnerable, and unliked.
One of the key places we should be safe from that fear is family. Yet, often it is the people who we crave acceptance from the most, who can break our heart the deepest. Like a pendulum, if we do not care how people feel about us, they cannot hurt us. But, those who we love the most, can wound us to our core. The betrayal felt becomes a huge reason to turn them off, deny them our love, and walk away.
But you only have one set of family. True, you can’t choose them. But they are still family. Right or wrong. Good or bad. Love or pain. Kindred spirits or really odd. They are part of us.
Her post made me want to purpose to always maintain the door open for my family, to always welcome them into my heart and home.
Just as long as they know they can’t stay forever.