“I believe that family is worth more than money or gold.”
~Savage Garden, Affirmation, 1999.
Familial tragedies—little and large, of both common and uncommon variety—are happening over the earth constantly; humanity groans from them (Romans 8:22).
Considering a present past few weeks, in almost any portion of time, our families go through a lot. No wonder our faith is tested; no wonder we are tricked into doubting God; many giving up on faith or turned off before they even enquire of God or faith.
The symbolism of the Savage Garden quote above is commandingly salient.
No one can deny the pull of family.
A Non-Positive Illustration – Brokenness
Even hardened criminals are known to be incarcerated for not being loved by their families of origin. I’m not sure it’s possible that anyone who’s truly been loved can find themselves serially in prisons where just systems of criminal law pervade. For this reason we can have much compassion for prisoners.
This is never a dig at the prisoners’ families—it’s merely an observation that “hurt people hurt people”—a broad (though imperfect) truth of life. No matter the input of love, hardened criminals haven’t felt loved.
This, if nothing else, speaks to the parental burden; who of us, as parents, has loved their children enough? Although my kids (and yours too probably, in your own cases) might disagree, I know (I feel) I haven’t. This is because we love them so much it hurts; this love expectation is impossible to live up to. It’s the common parental burden.
Of course, and it follows, it would also need to be said—truth be known—that we are all hurt people to some extent. Brokenness has become us. And though our families are instrumental in loving us, they’re also instrumental in breaking us too. None of us are immune.
It’s simply another reason we need God—to contend with, and for, our brokenness; to assure us of a love perfect and complete—a love beyond the limitations of human love.
Family is always the key to the success of any ‘successful’ person, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not. That is, if we define success appropriately, i.e. via the living of a sustainably happy life—whatever that looks like—seen from the spiritual perspective.
Families are our greatest affirmation. They deliver the ‘honesty vote.’
Compassion for Families
Given the above few examples, how can we, in our right minds and hearts, not have sweeping compassion for ‘the family’ in their loathing trials and tribulations?
For all the present challenges we’re going through, we know within our logical minds that many have gone before us, and they’ve endured—so we too can endure!
This is some paling and small comfort. But it’s also the truth.
What is Truth? (Restoring the Logical Mind to Prominence)
Recall Pilate asking Jesus this same question... (John 18:38). Pilate was certainly asking the right person.
This that follows has many broad and sweeping applications; I mean, not just here.
I thought recently, our logical minds are responsible for re-informing our hearts when we’re faced with emotionally-laden doubt. If our logical minds do inform our hearts, i.e. about what to feel, we will invariably walk pleasantly in the truth.
The truth may still be ugly, but in courage we still walk relatively cheerfully (excepting the wholesome grief which ransoms logic for a time when the truth is simply too stark to live).
A Worthy Affirmation
It is incumbent on us then, in considering this that’s directly above, and also in relation to living aright in our families, to habitually conform our thoughts to the logical mind i.e. renew the mind in the light of God’s truth (Romans 12:2).
This is a worthy affirmation with which our lives should attest.
This is the surest protection we have—love contending—in order that we, ourselves, and our families, do not simply survive, but we thrive also.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.