Not that I need another show to binge watch, but This Is Us on NBC has to be one of the most touching shows on television right now. I cry every single episode. Every.single.episode. What really gets me is the way the show covers the most delicate family dynamics with a little bit of humor and a lot of grace. It captures how our childhood seeps into our adulthood, conscientiously or not. As someone who had a challenging childhood, I’m not one for blaming my past for my present actions, after all, my present actions are my choices and I control my choices. However, those choices come from my belief system which stems in part from the experiences of my childhood. And some of those experiences left me broken.
We got to talking about family dynamics during Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law, who I think is a pretty remarkable woman, was talking about her current relationships with her siblings. Some of these relationships are strained. I was surprised to learn that part of the strain comes from the impression (true or not) that her brother received preferential treatment when they were kids and that resentment came along for the ride into their adult relationships. My mother-in-law is seventy years young. This means that she and her siblings have carried these feelings around for some sixty odd years. Family ties broken.
Isn’t that crazy? But we do it. Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone and you both stop speaking to each other and years later you can’t even remember what you argued about? Relationships broken.
The other night I had this dream about one of my family members. It was so real that I was disturbed for many hours after I woke up. In the dream, my family member was being abused by their father. In real life today this person is abusive. It makes me wonder if my dream is true. In many cases abuse leads to abuse (this is also a cycle that can be stopped). However, certain members of my family, they live in an alternate reality where past hurts didn’t happen. The events fester just under the surface like an infected wound. If we don’t talk about the bad stuff that means it didn’t happen. Trust and security broken.
I was reminded by someone the other day that the holidays aren’t all holly jolly for everyone. Broken families, broken hearts and broken homes can leave people feeling lonely, regretful, isolated and sad. We missed loved ones who left us way too soon, mourn relationships that used to be different.
This time of year we must remember the magnificent hope that came to us in the form of the baby Jesus. Our heavenly Father saw that His children were broken and He wanted us to know that we are also beloved. Adored. Treasured. Cherished. While He cannot fully protect us from the harms of this world, He sent His son Jesus as a living sacrifice to secure our future, to make us whole again.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~ Isaiah 9:6
As a little girl, on many Christmases I wished for a family that wasn’t quite so broken. For a Mom and Dad who were married and lived under one roof. Not for a Mom and Step Dad(s) or a Dad and Step Mom(s). Not for a Mom who died of cancer when I was 11. Not for a Mom who was too busy fighting cancer, figuring out who she was/what she wanted and had some growing up to do to give me much attention. Not for a Dad who showed up sometimes and then left leaving me wondering what was wrong with me. Yet the crazy thing is that through it all I knew my Heavenly Father loved me. He loved all of my broken bits and pieces. My imperfections. I believed then and still believe that He is my protector, my leader and forgiver. My hope and my comfort. My everything.
But you, O LORD, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. ~ Psalm 3:3
If this is a difficult time of year for you, if you find yourself feeling alone, please know that you are loved beyond measure by a God who heals our brokenness, because we are and always will be His beloved.