Dysfunctional families; everyone has one

I think the second most important thing in life after having a relationship with God is having family relationships.  Notice I don’t say, having a family.  Everyone has a family.  Some people are just disconnected from their family, and maybe not by choice.  Still, everyone has a family.  If you’re adopted, you have two families, and if you are a child of divorce you may have a number of families depending on how many times each of your parents were married and how many children of how many relationships they had.  Some of you may have so many step and shirttail family members, you could populate a small country.  But that’s a separate issue.  If you have a lot of family, obviously you can pick and choose which ones you’d like to have a close relationship with.  But you still need to try for harmonious relationships with all of them.

The issue is:  everyone needs family.  Family gives us a sense of a shared history, a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves, and some sort of a sense of permanence and rootedness that other relationships just can’t give.  Family is worth making sacrifices for, and making an effort to keep close ties. 

Nowadays families travel all over the world, and live all over the place.  In our family, we have members on both coasts and all over in between.  We’re not unique in that.  Americans are wanderers, our ancestors were wanderers.  If they were not, we would still be in the country they came from.  The bad part is we’re so far apart.  The good part is how much easier it is to stay in touch than ever before.  When my mother and us girls came here from Scotland, it was difficult to even get a letter overseas.  Now, with e-mail, its possible to maintain relationships all over the globe.

Its important to stay connected–to know whats going on in each other’s lives, and to give each other a sense of care and belonging.  Well Nonni, I’m sure you’ll say, you don’t know my family.  Its so dysfunctional, it puts the fun in dysfunctional!  Hey, whose family isn’t dysfunctional?  I’ve read statistics that every other family is now affected by addiction.  Every other family has someone with a personality disorder, and every other family is affected by divorce.  If those things don’t create challenges, what does?  There are people who are so mean, so bizarre, so manipulative they just plain wear us out.  Well, there are times, and there are people, and there are situations that just require us to take a break.  But we don’t write them off, either.  There are many, many more family members with whom we’ve had a spat, or a misunderstanding, or just a situation where we grew apart.  Those things need to be patched up, smoothed over, forgiven, and restored.  At the end of life, the only things we may see again are the people in our lives.  I used to wonder, if I got to heaven and there were a whole bunch of people there I couldn’t stand to be with on earth, how would I spend eternity with them?  Got me to thinking.  Would I pass up heaven to avoid all those people I didn’t like?  Maybe I’d better straighten out my relationships here while I have the time! 

Well, we could talk about forgiveness and what it costs, but this post is getting pretty long.  Maybe that should have its own post sometime.

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