“The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.” ~Erma Bombeck
The common thread that ties us together is wrapped with emotion.
Your parents and siblings probably know how to get under your skin in under sixty seconds. Which is why so many people have a love/hate relationship with the holidays and family reunions.
And that’s just your side of the family . . . what about your “in laws?”
Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr once said, “Family life is too intimate to be preserved by the spirit of justice. It can only be sustained by a spirit of love which goes beyond justice.”
He is absolutely right! Justice doesn’t work in families. Only forgiveness and love. Why? Because:
- Someone was hurt and someone else didn’t apologize.
- Someone apologized but someone else didn’t forgive.
- Someone took and didn’t restore.
- Someone left and hasn’t returned.
- Someone lied and never told the truth.
Someone did. Someone didn’t. Families are messy. Really messy. “Family life is too intimate to be preserved with justice.” Because in a family no matter how hard we try perfect equality and fairness are just not possible. We have to go beyond justice to love . . . deeply committed completely forgiving love.
10 Things to Pray for Your Extended Family
1. That those who don’t trust and love Jesus will come to faith through God’s grace.
2. That family members will forgive each other, and make relationships more important than past hurts, power, or possessions.
3. That family members will encourage and affirm each other.
4. That family members will stop trying to “fix” each other.
5. That patience will be a priority for everyone in the family.
6. That God will protect each family member from envy and jealousy.
7. That God will heal broken relationships, and return those who have walked away.
8. That God will bless each loved one with physical, spiritual, and emotional protection.
9. That family gatherings might be times of joy and laughter.
10. That God will bless you with the strength needed to treat each family member the way you want to be treated.
You may want to suggest that you all become prayer partners. Give each family a journal at the next gathering and ask everyone to commit to praying for the others and to share how others might pray for them.
It’s hard for me to stay upset with someone for whom I’m praying. How about you?
God gave us our families – whether we like His choices or not – He uses them to work in us to become the people He wants us to be.
Maybe your annoying little sister was supposed to teach you patience. Maybe your elderly grandmother was there to teach you gentleness and respect. Maybe you were given to your family to teach them unconditional love.
Love them. Forgive them. Bless them.