I ran into a church friend in a parking lot yesterday. I love the deeper bonds I experience with sisters in Christ, that after the hellos and hugs were given, our conversation could go to a much deeper place–and it didn’t seem odd or inappropriate to reveal hearts and hurts to one another. We talked about family.
Lately, thoughts on family and home have been top of mind. My husband and I talked about how we were raised, and how teachings were passed down to us, shaping how we handle conflicts or other issues. We could laugh at some things–like my father-in-law’s firey courage, but other things caused a somber reflection. What values do I want to perpetuate? What things need to stop here?
When I think of family or home, it is described by words like welcome, safe, loved, included. And yet, these are not the words I would use to describe where I came from. They’re what I wanted for myself, and what I want for my children (or anyone who enters my house). And I wonder, if we are to live in but not of the world: Shouldn’t home feel holy? Set apart from the world?
5 Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
6 God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. Psalm 68:5-6 NLT
First Peter 3 is where I linger today, with thoughts on family laid out before me. He advises the wife on godliness and beauty; and the husband on how to honor her. This, for all of us:
8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. 10 For the Scriptures say,
“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
11 Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:8-12 NLT
In a bloodline divided, to love like brothers and sisters seemed foreign to me. But God shows me what love looks like, through his own for me, and through sisters and brothers in Christ who know and show love. He puts this lonely one into a bigger, broader community of family. Isn’t this what he wants (for all of us): Unity? Love?
I want that too.
It’s all a work in progress, but I’m so thankful to have God’s Word to guide me. Home, set apart–not an idol or a realm of perfection, but a model of love and forgiveness–where we are not cast aside for our imperfection and brokenness, but spurred by one another, tenderly and humbly.
I asked my kids what words they would use to describe home … I heard things like safe, protected (from my 10 year old) and happy (from my 6 year old). We talked about ways we can live and choices we need to make.
Father God, I’m grateful for this life tapestry you’ve woven–how sisters enter my life to encourage and show me by example how to follow you better. I’m grateful to call you Father–and to know you love me, that I can trust you, and you will not forsake me. I am your child, and you live in me. What love you have lavished upon me. I’m a wife, a daughter, a sister, a mother–help me, Lord, daily, to follow your call. Thanks (always!) for your patience and guidance.
Listening to Matthew West’s song, Hello My Name Is