Families are something we all have whether we like it or not! And those family ties are so incredibly strong in both good and bad ways – no-one can make us feel safer and more loved than our families but no-one can hurt us more.
I am fascinated by families, I love family trees and history, photos and family likenesses. A few months ago a parcel arrived from Cyprus for my mum which had been sent by my grandpa’s neighbours. It was various papers and photos they had found in his house. I was in total heaven – in amongst that parcel was a detailed family tree going back 5 generations and transcripts of family letters dating back to the 1800s, the originals of which are safely tucked away. I came to one photo and I was totally blown away as it was a photo of my great grandfather (my grandfather’s father) from the early 1900s and it could have been my dad – the resemblance was so strong.
I love the idea of 2 people coming together to create a new family and each of those individual histories, lineages and genetics combining to create a new life.
It is true what they say in that during our childhoods are families are everything and then during our teens and 20s we make steps out on our to then come back – that certainly feels the case for me! At one point my family were the last people I wanted to spend time with but certainly now the people I love being with the most.
No family is perfect – ours is far far from it. Like most families there are plenty of characters, family arguments and history- there are broken relationships, geographical distances and long held hurts. I often wonder how I could possibly be related to half of my relatives and no doubt they feel the same about me. That being said though however much they may frustrate me or however different we may be they are the same flesh and blood and there is something very powerful in that.
My sibling, my cousins, their spouses and their children are absolutely my favourite people. After spending time with my cousin’s little ones in Sydney I was overwhelmed at how much I fell in love with them. My mum is a legend who literally holds my world together and the absence of my dad leaves a big hole in my heart. I am blessed to have uncles and aunts who love me. So whilst my family is not what I hoped it would be, whilst I thought it may include a husband, more children with their Grandpa here to watch them grow, more and more I am realising how very blessed I am to be part of the family I am part of, with its warts and all.
I am though very much aware of the pain families can bring partly because at times I have experienced that pain myself but also because for the last 11 years I have worked day in day out with warring families, dealing with siblings that hate each other, parents and children who have been estranged for many years and step families where there is no love lost – I have literally been waist deep in dealing with the hatred, bitterness and sadness that comes with these broken relationships, for years, and it is incredibly sad and heart breaking. On nearly a daily basis my colleagues and I would voice out loud our wonder at how things could get that bad.
I know that families are not always easy to be part of and that sometimes other people make those family relationships all but impossible and I also know that for some the area of family is a deeply painful one. I am thankful that my earthly family aside I have a Heavenly Father and that where family relationships are tough he has those situations and is more than able to carry us in the midst of those pains, but also to turn those situations around. I know there can be healing, restoration and redemption when we let God do his work.
Families need grace, forgiveness and a sense of humour but they are worth fighting for and investing in. And whilst I have said this before and I will no doubt say it again, because it is something I feel incredibly passionate about, for those of us that are lucky enough to have families we love we need to be sharing those families with people who are not so fortunate, to include people and welcome them into our families with open arms.