You’ve heard about my brother, Aunt Sandy, and my cousin Marissa, but I want to tell you a little about some of the rest of my family now (except for my dad, he gets his own post right after this one!). We don’t get to pick our families. And not everyone comes from a healthy family, but I think we are all born (or adopted) into the families we’re meant to be kin to. The good, bad, ugly, dysfunction, great memories, not so great memories, triumphs, tragedies, victories, and trauma all shape the humans we become. Families are one of those things I’m convinced Paul is talking about in scripture when he says that all things work together for good.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” –Romans 8:28
Let me pause a moment to say that I really don’t think you should ever quote that scripture to anyone going through anything bad (I’m certain I’ve been guilty of that at least once or twelve times). In the midst of bad – abuse, neglect, tragedy, trauma, depression, grief, loss, etc., quoting that scripture can easily be misinterpreted to the hurting heart that what is happening is good. None of those things are good. I do think it’s important to remember and believe something my friend Amanda Taylor said months ago that hasn’t left my thoughts, “God’s definition of good and our definition of good aren’t always the same.” BUT, bad is real and really does happen in this fallen broken world we live in. I just think (know) that God can and wants to redeem the bad in our lives. He uses our brokenness in beautiful ways. Broken people find broken people and experience healing from one another’s stories and hurts. The scars remain (see yesterday’s post), but God uses it for His glory and leads us to healing. We can love our families even if they’re broken and have hurt us. We can also be the ones who break generational sin and shame.
“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” -Albus Dumbledore, Goblet of Fire (book)
I just don’t think there is any “supposed to” we can apply to family relationships. All of our situations are different and there just isn’t a set of rules we can generically follow. I think family stuff is hard whether you have a great one or a broken one or a great one that’s also broken. I think it’s GREAT to love your family and be proud of them and loyal to them, but the only worthy, lasting, unshakable thing that we can put our hope in is Jesus. I also know that reconciliation is real. It doesn’t always happen, but it can. I think God speaks to us and leads us to where wants to go in regards to family relationships. Just listen and ask! Maybe you’re supposed to seek reconciliation. Maybe you’re not. Either road is hard! We can pray for them and love them. We can set boundaries if we need to. We can spend time with them if we want to or need to. We can laugh hysterically while we re-tell old stories and make new memories. We can cry hysterically about it all when we need to. We can have good moments and bad moments. We can forgive and still protect ourselves in the ways we need to. We CAN heal and let go of bitterness and resentment. Good or bad, our families don’t define us. They are part of us and our stories, but the don’t define us. We can celebrate our similarities AND our differences.
“It isn’t how you are alike. It’s how you are not.” -Albus Dumbledore, Order of the Phoenix (movie)
So all that to say, my family isn’t perfect. I didn’t get to chose them, but I wouldn’t wish any of them away. I desire to be in the balance of Albus Dumbledore’s words and the apostle Paul’s words when I think about them – aware of the good ways in which we’re alike, thankful for some of our differences, proud of who I’ve grown to be, and reminded of God’s redeeming hand amidst it all.
I know how to feed cows, work in a garden, and that no tomato is as good as garden-grown tomato because of my Papaw (mom’s dad) whose work ethic is unmatched by any I’ve ever known. I know that I was supposed to be a red-head because of my German Mamaw (mom’s mom). I got my freckles (which I love) from both sides – the German Mamaw and my Nanny (dad’s mom). From my mom I got good calves, craftiness, and an adventurous cooking side (I’m told she made homemade egg rolls once way back in the day before Pinterest). My cousin Jacob (Marissa’s brother, Aunt Sandy’s son) is one of the most hilarious people I’ve ever met. He leads worship with his lovely wife and I’m a super proud big cousin. My cousin Zack (Marissa and Jacob’s brother, Aunt Sandy’s son) and I have identically freckled arms, it’s weird. He got the red hair I was suppose to get. He’s hilarious too and a ridiculously talented musician. I’m certain he’s going to be a famous drummer one day (#proudcousinstatus). My Uncle Jeff (Aunt Sandy’s husband) is also hilarious and is an INCREDIBLE carpenter that makes amazing woodworking things (and also a musician, I didn’t inherit this gene that they all possess). My Uncle Charles (mom and Aunt Sandy’s brother) is another one of the hard-working men of my family and an excellent huntsman; I wish I had access to just a fraction of the deer meat he acquires each year. My Aunt Ellen (Uncle Charles’s wife) is quiet, kind, gentle, and loving. My cousin Nick (Charles and Ellen’s son) is super smart, loves theology and ministry, and is a new dad to a precious baby boy. My cousin Josh (Nick’s brother) has two of the cutest kids I’ve ever seen that he loves dearly and has an extremely talented artistic wife who’s an amazing mom to those little boys. My Nanny (dad’s mom) is an incredible woman that I’ve gotten closer to as an adult. We’re so much alike and I value everything she says! My Aunt Debbie (dad’s sister) is kind, smart, and beautiful. I am envious of her world travels! My cousin April (Aunt Debbie’s daughter) lives an amazing life in FRANCE with her beautiful family. She inspires me to not be scared of adventure and change. My cousin Ian (April’s brother) lives a hard life and has a family that loves him and thinks about him and prays for him constantly! My other Mamaw (dad’s stepmom) is a lovely little southern belle of a lady who’s an amazing cook and as sweet as tea (the southern kind, duh). My Papaw (dad’s dad) loves the Lord so much and also loves golf more than anyone I know. My Uncle Bob (dad’s brother) is forever hardworking and loves his family fiercely. My Aunt Kim (Uncle Bob’s wife) is one of the sassiest people I’ve ever met, an AMAZING cook, and a sacrificially loving wife, mom, and grandmother. My cousin Jeret (Kim and Bob’s son) has two adorable little girls and is one of the most down to earth people I’ve ever met. And last but not least, my stepmom. I will forever and always be thankful for how she always took care of and loved my dad, but especially in his last days. She was by his side every minute and had to watch him live all of his last, final, and hard moments and continues to love and remember him no matter how much time passes.
These are the people who were meant to be my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Their genetics, characteristics, personalities, skills, talents, and stories have shaped me. I am thankful for their lives! You know I love to google things. A google image search for “family quotes” produced this gem, “Family: They drive you crazy. They drive you nuts. They drive you loony. But – they drive you.” I’m genuinely thankful for the ways they’ve driven me, the love they’ve shown me and each other, and the me they’ve directly and indirectly helped me become. And above all I’m thankful for a God who has adopted me and made me part of the only perfect family that will ever exist – His.
This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.