I dreamt I was in the loving arms of my grandmother in her big old house on Summit Avenue. Only my older sister Betty Clare was with us. Suddenly we were jumping up and down and trying to hug each other at the same time.
As I looked more closely at the scene, I noticed that Betty Clare and I wore our school clothes. We hadn’t changed into our play clothes after school. I was young, 6 or 7, and Mother wasn’t there, or Kathleen, my younger sister.
I realized that this was the day Kathleen was born, when I was barely seven. When we came home from school, Grandmother has told us we had a little sister. We were celebrating her birth with great joy.
This dream jolted me into realizing how easily I forget the good times in our family. So much has happened since then. Betty Clare died 12 years ago and Kathleen’s been gone three years. I am the only one in that dream who is still alive.
Our family spent many a Christmas at my grandmother’s home. The celebrations brought us closer, although I let negative comments spoil a few.
Families are forever
Whether the holidays bring us closer to our family or we still keep our distance, they are always our family. Some family members are more loveable than others. We are more loveable to some of them than to others. But we are family. We struggle with accepting them as they are while we long for them to love us the way we need to be loved.
The Lord promises that he makes everything new! Can you take a step back and take a new look at your family relationships, warts and all, and see that the fruits of the Spirit are beginning to emerge? Perhaps there is more love displayed, more joy and peace emerging that you didn’t notice last time you were together. Are some of the extended family members more patient, and are you kinder than before? Do you see that goodness in them that the Lord puts in every one of his children? Are they more faithful to family celebrations and gentler with you? Are they teaching you self-control, even the hard way?
Decision to heal
We may have a strong desire to heal broken family relationships. But our commitment to difficult family members does not require us to suffer in silence. The Lord values family unity so much that when we give him our damaged relationships, he will heal them in his time. Healing is well within the Lord’s power. He can heal any relationship problem when we call upon him and commit to loving and serving those he gives us to love. It may not be an easy journey of love, but, as the song goes, “it sure is hard enough!”
When we act on our decision to love and care for one another by bringing the Lord into the family, the feelings will come later. Be not afraid! Those feelings will confirm that the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control he wants for you are growing each season.
Do you have a holiday horror story of broken relationships you want the Lord to make new through the fruits of the Holy Spirit?
(© 2014, revised 2017 Nancy H C Ward)