We don't get to pick our family. And we don't get to pick our spouse's family. Family is simply put, a gift from God. (I know a good majority of readers are laughing or crying or both right now!) I know there are times when family feels more like a White Elephant gift than a gift to actually be thankful for. And maybe your family feels like a curse rather than a blessing. However, I promise that crazy family of yours is a gift and they serve a purpose in your life.
Last week, my sister and I were talking about dysfunctional families and how the way a family functions shapes the way children develop. And we talked about how much you learn from the relationships in your family. Forgiveness. Understanding. Patience. Acceptance. Love. So many lessons can be learned through family. We were specifically remembering huge fights we've had between us over the years and how we learned to forgive one another and then develop and maintain a relationship through the hurt. I never really thought about it in such delicate detail, but it made me incredibly thankful I had a sister to learn forgiveness, loyalty and love from over the years. I believe family serves a significant, specific purpose in our lives. The purpose of your family may be different from the purpose of my family, but each of our families serve a purpose.
Now you may be thinking to yourself, "Ashley Lucille you have no idea just how dysfunctional my family is!! The only purpose my family serves is to make my life a living hell". And you know what, you're right. I have no idea how dysfunctional your family is and YOU have no idea how dysfunctional my family is or is not. Thankfully I don't need to know the details of your family and you don't need the details of my family to realize family serves a purpose. God uses our families to carry out His purpose for our lives, no matter the depth of dysfunction embedded in our families.
That's not to say, this purpose will be without pain, frustration or a battle along the way. Whenever I'm particularly frustrated with family, I somehow find my way to the book of Genesis and read about Joseph. Joseph's life is so "complicated" it would be hard to truly capture the dysfunction without a long dissertation but I'm going to paint a quick picture of his family:
I could go on but I think you get the picture. Joseph was no stranger to the concept of a dysfunctional family. And yet a very unique thing happened in Joesph's life. God used Joseph and the experience with his family for an amazing purpose. God used his dysfunctional family to carry out His purpose for Joseph's life. Joseph was not defined by his family. His family was not an excuse for him to follow in their dysfunctional footsteps. Joseph's family was the reason he overcame so much in His life.
Genesis 45:5, 7-8
"And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you...But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt."
(Note: Joseph is speaking to his brothers when he found them after they sold him into slavery. Can you hear the forgiveness and love in Joesph's tone?)
His dysfunctional family was the reason God was able to accomplish great things. Joseph ended up being a ruler in Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh. Joseph ended up saving lives through the circumstances and lessons he learned from his dysfunctional family. (To understand the saving lives part, read the entire story in Genesis 37-50.)
So although we don't get to pick our families, our families also don't get to pick how God uses them in our lives. Your family may be completely functional and serve the purpose of unconditional love and support or your family may resemble something like what you might see on The Jerry Springer Show and provide endless opportunities for you to learn difficult lessons. Either way God is using your family to carry out His purpose for your life. And that makes family a gift to cherish.
Family, lessons and purpose,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.