What is this really about?
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 ESV
“When pure sincerity forms within, it is outwardly realized in other people’s hearts.”-Lao Tzu
Difficult people! Tough situations! But no one has our number like our family, do they?
Who can shatter with one look? You know–that eye-brow lift that condemns?
Who can diminish with a not-so-well-meaning phrase? Example: Are you losing weight? Here, have a cookie.
Who can share your most intimate experiences behind your back? Can you feel the shame or anger rise in you?
Family dinner. The liberal accuses the conservative of being unfeeling and without empathy. The conservative bites back that the liberal has no head, understanding or the consequences of emotional decisions. One thinks the other is boring and rigid. The other thinks she has no heart. And then the extremes of each is volleyed! What a nice dinner! Mashed potatoes are washable.
Aha! Family! The ones that are supposed to love us. The ones we’re supposed to love back. The ones that know our weaknesses even better than we do. And you know theirs.
What is this really about?
Coming from a very dysfunctional family is what it’s about. You did. Your siblings did. Your spouse did. Your best friend did. Your boss did. We all sin and fall short. Probably the trickiest is our family and affects all other relationships. We learned, whether we were aware or not, how to adapt, limp and shoot from the hip, especially we black sheep/scapegoat types. Survival!
Then the biggie: open your heart.
Then everything becomes unicorns, roses, fairy dust and rainbows. Actually, not at all. Our Father gently but firmly puts my focus back on him. We take out our emotional garbage. He may remind us that our siblings came from the same dysfunction, but they experienced it and adapted differently that we did—they were in survival mode too. Then our Father reminds us of how precious and loved we are by him. Then we open our heart. We challenge the dysfunction, not the person. We set boundaries on what is acceptable and what is not. The “here, have a cookie” is met with “no thank you.” The gossip is met with silence trusting the Father to reveal the truth. The liberal/conservative debates are met with, “With God all things are possible.” And we trust. We trust our Father. We gain patience. We gain peace. We let go. God reveals what a beautiful, “New Creation” we are. We live. We love. We are thankful for the lessons.
Almost every complaint, whine and story shows what a righteous person (victim, usually) I am compared to the other in my story. Then the question: “What is this really about?” There’s my business and God’s business. My business is to give this person space and pray. Seek help, if truly troublesome. My business is not to internalize and personalize actions and comments that come from a dysfunctional family, living or dead. If I’m to do more, God will gently open a way.
Thank you for our church families. Thank you for our Earthly families. Both are opportunities to grow in grace and love looking to you to fill our neediness. You are readily available to show us how loved we are no matter the blind spots we have. Love is a discipline too, but it’s the thing that lasts forever.