by: Jonathan Burchard
Family is a beautiful mess. It is a walk in the park on a glorious fall day and a horror movie that never seems to end. It is what we run away from and yet seem to be consistently influenced by. It is a long look in the mirror.
Extreme emotions and life decisions can be prompted by family issues, because family is a powerful system loaded with expectations. The problem is that our expectations are somewhat unrealistic. It’s natural to want family relationships to be perfectly loving, yet it’s more realistic to expect family to be a “learning lab” in which we encounter flaws and learn to respond in love.
In families, the flaws of our loved ones are genetically embedded within us or are part of the “approved living package” that has been reinforced over the years. As we see the same patterns in our life choices, it’s easy to become self-critical and judgmental of our family-of-origin. We don’t want the flaws to continue, so it’s easy to emotionally or physically distance ourselves from the madness.
There is a powerful personal freedom that can occur from reconciling with family, though. When you can move towards family, see flaws honestly, and engage with forgiveness and unconditional love, you can begin the process of seeing the beauty within and make choices that reflect your values and life direction.* You can look in the mirror and appreciate the beauty of imperfection.
Don’t just settle for self-acceptance, though, because you’ll never fully convince yourself of your value in this world. There are too many voices that remind you of your inadequacies. There is only one voice that can truly speak of your value; the One who created you. He made you to enjoy Him and worship Him forever through Jesus. Reconciled to that truth, you can rest in His acceptance and love.
David exclaimed to God in Psalm 139:13-14:
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
*It is important to realize that some relationships are best reconciled from a distance due to a history of abuse. Boundaries are essential for emotional and relational health. It might be helpful to consult a counselor, pastor, and the Bible regarding the best way to engage, forgive, and express unconditional love.