The kids made Thanksgiving cards today. These are cards that we will give to people we are thankful for. They made them for their friends, cousins and grandparents. We made them even for my parents. Though we don’t ever hear from them, we are still thankful for them.
Being thankful doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. My heart grieves over the loss of relationship with my parents. It breaks my heart when my daughter asks me questions, like she did the other day. “Mommy, if your parents love you, why don’t they ever talk to you?” I can’t even answer these questions for myself, much less for my children. Yet, my goal is for my children to know that we love others unconditionally. Our holy calling is to love and honor our parents, even when we don’t feel it back. So, we still make Thanksgiving cards. We still send birthday cards. We still write Mother’s and Father’s Day cards. My children are not yet old enough to question why we send them cards, when nothing is received back. All four of my children had birthdays come and go this year, without any sort of acknowledgement from their grandparents. (Stephen’s birth did bring about a “Congratulations” from my mom via mass text.) The day will come when questions will be asked, and I pray that I am ready to graciously answer them. I want my children to know that ultimately, our response should be to love.
I know this week is hard for many people. Most people could label the holidays as bittersweet. Being around family can be an incredible blessing, but even the most wonderful families have their share of ugliness (also called sin).
Family is supposed to be this wonderful, safe place. It is supposed to be this place where you are loved unconditionally. In essence, family on earth is supposed to give us an idea of what heaven will be like; unity, vulnerability, unconditional love, joyful communion. Unfortunately, many people’s families are more representative of what hell is like: separation, strife, hatred, bitterness, isolation, etc.
My challenge for myself is the same challenge I am going to issue to you. This year, when the family gathers round the table and you start feeling those same old feelings of rejection, abandonment, resentment or whatever else plagues you, remember to love.
Love doesn’t mean pretending everything is okay. It isn’t unconditionally accepting others. It is seeing them as Christ sees us. When that crazy uncle makes those cutting, sarcastic comments; it’s the ability to see through them to the hurt that he has in his heart. It is loving him in that place, rather than hating him for the surface jabs.
Personally, it’s loving my parents, even though the rejection by them is so tangible. It’s showing kindness, even in the midst of harshness. It’s honoring them by being the best wife and mom I can be. I can’t think of anything more honoring to Christian parents than for them to see their child walking with the Savior. So, that is my aim. Not for them, but for Him.
This week, when you are with family; be prepared. You know the dysfunction will be there, it is present in every family. How will you choose to respond? You aren’t responsible for the things your family says or does, but you are responsible for the way you respond to it. Choose love. Choose kindness.
And if that’s in the form of Thanksgiving cards, then bust out the paint and go crazy!