Although we have quite a few immediate family members in the Orlando area, the rest of our clan are spread out, in Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. For the cousins to connect or the siblings to see one another, planning is required, an activity that often appears insurmountable.
But my good fortune allowed the daughters from DC and Denver to fly up for the same weekend. We missed our Pennsylvania party, but we’re grateful for anything we can get.
Courtney brought her son Beck with her. A joyful little guy at two and a half, he’s not quite used to the crowds and noise level our family consistently delivers.
But the sisters loved it.
They are as diverse a group as you can get; I look at the five of them in awe, recognizing I gave birth to each of them, raised them pretty much the same way, and yet each of them have a remarkably different personality and perspective on life.
Our family discussions run the gamut from the humorous and spontaneous to the deeply political and theological. We laugh a lot over ridiculous jokes, poking kind fun at each other, having learned the limits of each others’ sensitivity. We go too far at times, but everyone is quick to ask forgiveness and to forgive.
Politically, we differ because of the viewpoint of varied generations. Our life experience has shaped us with times we’ve lived through. I enjoy hearing my children speak from a vantage point different from mine. I trust them as responsible adults.
From a biblical point of view, we all believe Jesus to be our Savior, the One who paid a price for us that we could never be able to pay. These are heartfelt convictions, not mere opinions, and yet each of us live out our faith differently. Same values; distinctive expressions of faith and faithfulness. Some are more outspoken and evangelistic, some are quieter, working behind the scenes for change.
Our differences create conversations which are thought provoking. Coming together as infrequently as we do, the time together is of greater value than how we agree or not. We’re still in process–relationships are always messy, no matter how close. But we’re learning to extend grace instead of goading.
If my family can’t agree, why would I ever think that people, unrelated and unknown to one another, could possibly agree?
Agreeing to disagree is a sign of mutual maturity. To get anything done, to move forward with efficiency and effectiveness, we must learn to listen without judgement. How people respond to us very often has nothing to do with what we’ve done, but is sparked by something in their story.
The apostle Paul stated:
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13
The biggest burden in our world today is a lack of forgiveness. If families can’t get along, how can anyone else? And how do we forgive the one that often hurts us the most–ourselves?
Jesus. He came to offer forgiveness and teach us how to forgive.
This world is one big messy family. All made in God’s image. All connected by a Creator who loves us each well.
Listening and letting go of what we think we deserve may be our best choice.