What a week! We were heart-deep in family strife. Relationships between my husband’s brothers were strained, spilling years of anger and frustration into other relationships and affecting a recent holiday gathering, leaving my teenage sons reeling. One daughter was still struggling with breathing issues, work was challenging and exhausting for my husband in the aftermath of three straight rounds of lay-offs, and mid-week, a huge eight-point buck collided with his car during his morning commute.
Words came hard as I relayed news of the accident to my five kids. They were sad, concerned and angry – a reaction I hadn’t expected, but quickly began to understand as they vented about all God was allowing in their Dad’s life. “No wonder he feels so beat up, run down, weary, tired and old,” murmured my oldest son. The kids felt compassion for their Dad and understandable, if misguided, anger toward others.
Over the next half hour we discussed what they were feeling, but it wasn’t enough. Tempers flared between my sons as they worked together on A/V equipment for their youth skit and worship teams, escalating into an ugly wrestling match, leaving my daughters uneasy and one in tears. My kids had been unexpectedly thrust into emotional territory they weren’t mature enough to handle, too many emotions smoldered just beneath the surface. It took little to spark a fight.
Throughout the morning, as I led a women’s Bible study, I silently prayed for my sons, pleading for wisdom and discernment, open hearts and willing spirits, understanding, compassion and peace. It was what I wanted for my sons, but also for my husband’s brothers. Love covers a multitude of sins, but in order to truly, honestly love, we must be willing to forgive – never easy, but always right and more than worth the cost.
Colossians 3:12-14 says it best: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” That is grace – loving one another through the pain, through the anger, through the frustration, seeking the best instead of the worst, the heart intent in spite of the words and actions, setting aside our pride, and learning to be patient with each other’s weaknesses, patient with ourselves.
It’s a tall order, yet as my husband and I talked with our boys over the next few days, understanding began to dawn. God isn’t finished with us – any of us. We are all works in progress, rife with shortcomings and weaknesses, fallible and prone to selfishness and pride. But we were created to be so much more! We need to learn to see one another through God’s eyes, to look toward the future and glimpse the beautiful strands of hope sewn into each soul, the promise of who we were created to be and who we can become in Christ.
Father, may we be willing. Amen.