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Self vs. Family

Family can be the most frustratingly essential joy known to man. 

I meet with a friend almost every Friday at 7am for breakfast and I am always blessed by our conversations. Today’s conversation centered largely on our generational differences. He is 50. I am 34. We often see the world and it’s inhabitants through different lenses but we are both desiring to see things through God’s eyes (as intimidating and overwhelming as that could be). 

This morning we spoke about how Millenials (my generational group) and the boomers (his generational group) view family. For many Millenials, family extends beyond blood and birth. Millenials such as myself also view close friends as family. I have one birth brother and I have at least 5 young men who I also introduce to others as, “my brother”.

While there is certainly no comparison to actually having a flesh and blood family, with separation and distance comes the desire for intimacy. Millenials seek to create (if they have not experienced a cohesive family) familial situations through their friendships. And in situations where distance prevails (as in my case) my friends become my family.

All to often we find acceptable the act of turning our backs on our family. We spend all of our emotional energy in finding and cultivating a family environment only to walk way (far too easily I might add) from those very people who love us and have poured their lives into us.

Proverbs 24:10 states, “If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” This wasn’t a question but an exclamation. A fact. Observational truth that revealed the correlation between the size of the fight in the dog vs. the size of the dog in the fight. It’s David vs. Goliath. It’s the hunter vs. the hunted. It’s left Twix vs. right Twix.

It’s self vs. family.

Let’s leave the exceptions to the rule out of this conversation as I know there are some who will immediately jump to dysfunctional situations and ask whether I am condoning the dysfunction. You’re missing the point. So to ease your troubled mind I’ll say it this way. In a healthy and functional environment full of love and acceptance, to turn your back on family is spiritually and emotionally dysfunctional. It rejects the very intimacy Christ established through fathers and sons and mothers and daughters. At the same time it celebrates division and isolation for the glory of self prescribed remedies that are masked in the false identity of God’s plan. Any plan that celebrates division is not of God. Titus 3:10-11 says,

Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.

It hurts when someone you love and consider family walks away from relationship, friendship, and/or the Lord. Very few things weigh so heavily on ones heart. This is why we do everything within our power to foster a sense of unity even in the midst of turmoil or conflict.  Ephesians 4:1-6 encourages,

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Sometimes we get tired and frustrated with family and the frustration or fatigue fosters an us vs. them mentality. It’s not us vs. them. It’s simply us. We are all we have. Together. The Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of Together. It doesn’t mean it will always be easy, but it will always be worth it.

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