We’ll be together tomorrow, a group of diverse souls who just happen to be related to each other. We’ll bring our potluck dishes, as we’ve never been a family prone to the traditional menu, and we will be thankful for our many, many blessings. We will eat and visit and play games and possibly nap. And we will love.
While we have faithfully gathered year after year, it hasn’t always been easy to be together. There were years where the atmosphere was somewhat tense, undercurrents of the unresolved flowing beneath our attempts at pleasantries with the occasional awkward silences that accompany strained conversation. Difficulties between parents and children, sisters and brothers are inevitable, I suppose in every family, if much time at all is spent together. So I am particularly thankful this year that we have weathered the storms that often drown families, scattering them amongst the waves where they are continually tossed and never find the calm waters of love and acceptance and forgiveness that we have found.
Our mother is 85 years old and will be the center of the gathering. There is no greater delight for her than to have her children near. She has watched us grow, graduate, marry, divorce, rejoice, suffer, and relocate to further away than she would have liked. She watched as we struggled in our relationships with our father and each other, and experienced the joys and sorrows of our developing relationships with her. We shattered her dreams countless times, I’m sure, yet each time she simply formed new dreams and loved us all the more. I believe her to be central to the wholeness our family was able to find, not because she was highly educated or learned in the emotional or psychological needs we had, but because she prayed. Passionately.
She’s loved us equally and maintained high expectations of the kind of people we should be – respectful, honest, and good. And while having the same expectations for each of us, she also has very unique, one-of-a-kind relationships with each of us. She knows us in a way we do not know each other, and the same is true of how we see her. She has revealed herself to us in different ways at different times for different reasons. Should she respond to me or deal with me exactly as she does one of my siblings, I would be disappointed or frustrated, feeling that she didn’t really know me. If she had the expectation that I would always treat her exactly as a sibling may, I would feel the pressure of having to perform in a way I am ill-equipped to do. Our relationship would become uncomfortable and empty of understanding.
Sometimes it hasn’t been easy for this family of God to gather together. There’ve been misunderstandings and difficulties because we are so different in so many ways. Undercurrents of the unresolved have become storms that scattered many. Sometimes it has been tense and uncomfortable, with many an awkward moment. Often we’ve tried to pressure others to be just like us, arrogantly thinking our way surely must be best. Yet we are a family He calls to gather together.
I am thankful I have a praying mother. And I am thankful that I have a Father God that is big enough to have high expectations of what kind of children we will be while also enjoying unique relationships with each of His children. He loves us equally. He knows each of us in a way no one else does. He reveals Himself to us in different ways at different times for different reasons. He responds to us differently and deals with us differently, all without any contradiction of Himself. He puts no pressure on us that we must all perform in the same manner. He is God and is true to His word that He will make us – each of us – what we ought to be as we seek Him.
Now may the God of peace, Who is the Author and the Giver of peace…strengthen (complete and perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; while He Himself works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to Whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen Hebrews 13:20-21