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A baby is a blank human canvas.
Well, that’s only half true.
Long before any of us are physically conceived, God has created us through and through. He knows our end from our beginning. Aware of every moment we will live through and every breath we will take.
A baby is a human canvas with a divine blueprint.
It’s one of the mind-blowing yet simple truths I stumbled upon when God started sharing His heart and mind about family with me. Unfortunately, very few of us are raised this way. Even those of us who’ve grown up in Christian homes.
Our homes are the first point of contact with the world. We become sponges of whatever physical and spiritual environment we’re born into – taking in both good and bad. So if anything goes right and/or wrong in our lives, chances are the genesis can be traced back to the homes we grew up in.
The reality for us all is that we’re born into an imperfect world and imperfect families. It’s one of the things we don’t get to choose in this life – what family we’re born into. God in His wisdom and perfect, sometimes permissive, will places each one of us with a specific family. Both biological and spiritual.
Home is the first place we are called by name. A name isn’t just a word used to get your attention. It refers to your entire being and your identity as a whole. Home is the first place we are told who we are and who we are not. What we can and can’t do. Even in silence, those around us speak to our being. The truth of what we’re told varies greatly. And just because what we hear sounds good, doesn’t make it true, and it certainly doesn’t make it Godly.
When we get saved, our new spiritual home – your church – is where all this begins to unravel. The deeper you grow in Christ, the more the truth is separated from the lies like wheat from chaff. Because at the very core of who God is to us, is who we are in Him. He begins to address our identity directly and indirectly using our spiritual family because new wine cannot reside in old wineskin. There is a divine blueprint for you even as a spiritual baby.
But here’s the thing that many of us don’t get about church. It’s as imperfect as your own family if not more so. There is no magical potion that Jesus pours out to give us instant perfection as individuals and as a Body. This means that as we all go through refinement there will regularly be mistakes made and upsets, both mild and great, to resolve.
As God is unraveling you, He’s unraveling the person seated next to you on Sunday morning. It’s a messy process, to put it mildly. Yet so many of us expect our Christian brothers and sisters – church leaders included – to be walking banners of perfection. We feel entitled to their perfect expression of Christ when it’s His very grace – kindness of His love – holding our fragile pieces together.
Yet here we are all just trying to figure out this journey called life. Even those who’ve gone ahead of you don’t have it all worked out. Far from it. That’s why we’re all in desperate need of grace to cover each other’s areas of nakedness. Not point fingers and cause public spectacles as we are so prone to do.
None of this discounts just how real hurt is – whether from our biological or spiritual family – or the importance of dealing with it in a healthy way. I remember going to God once full of angst about situation after situation where people were stomping all over my heart. As I ranted and raved, I matter-of-factly told Him that I have every right to be angry.
To my surprise, He agreed with me.
But there was a catch. No surprise there.
Mary, yes, you have every right to be angry and bitter. What these people have done isn’t right. But you also have the right to peace and forgiveness. So you need to choose what you’ll hold onto, because you can’t hold on to both.
Many of us go through life holding onto pain, bitterness, anger and unforgiveness for very legitimate reasons. But as a result we miss out on the very essence of Jesus being the Prince of Peace. We miss out on our choice inheritance in His Kingdom – righteousness, peace and joy.
It’s no coincidence that our homes are the basic unit of the Kingdom. The most direct, distilled and profound expression of everything it is, everything God is, is to be found in our homes. That’s why the enemy attacks them so. Because he knows that if he can turn our hearts against the expression of God closest to us, we’re screwed.
Any thinking human being will probably ask why God doesn’t just prevent all the bad stuff from happening. Why He doesn’t place everyone with happy go-lucky families where no one suffers in any way.
It would take a set of perfect human beings to make a perfect family and a set of perfect families to make a perfect world. The gravity of what happened in Eden is that we are unable to manifest God’s vision for family without Him. And even when are reconciled to Him through salvation, it’s a process for all of us to align to His heart and mind.
God can’t force anyone – our families included – into perfection and goodness. But He can take the mistakes and hurts and turn them around for our good. In every imperfection and weakness, in every injustice and upset, that comes from our biological and spiritual family, God has peace and resolution already set aside in eternity long before anything ever goes wrong on earth. It may not look like what we think it should, but it works when we embrace the truth of it.
I’ve seen how God takes the wounds of a biological home and uses a spiritual family to be the balm of Gilead that brings healing.
I’ve seen how He uses divine relationships – dating and marriage – to give people, myself included, what we never got from our families.
Our imperfect families – spiritual and biological – can only handle us according to God’s perfect will to the degree to which they have a revelation of who we are and what God has created us to be. Sometimes they get it. Sometimes they don’t. So hard as it is, for our relationships to work, for our hearts to be whole and stay whole, for family of any kind to thrive, we need to extravagantly and lavishly extend grace and forgiveness.
Is it easy? No. Those closest to us have the greatest ability to hurt us. For many of us, family falls squarely in that category. It takes a revelation of the logs in your eyes to understand and express grace – the kindness of God’s love – to the specks in the eyes of another.
May God help each one of us be to others the kind of family we want them to be to us. It has to start with someone. Let that someone be you.