My mom, sister’s and I got together for lunch. When I look at this photo I think about all the lessons I have learned from each one of these women. Sharing life together has been part of my personal journey in adulthood. Learning to love my family in a different way with love, forgiveness, and patience has filled me with more wisdom than I thought. I learned how to parent with all of their support. We would babysit for one another, we would talk about the struggle it was to grow and we would laugh with one another. And my sweet mom was always close by to offer her wisdom and concern. I have been blessed to live close to my family and to share this journey with them. There have been dark times with my family, times that I questioned if it was worth being as close to them as I was but God in his unspeakable grace moved through the pain. Not completely sure how that happened. Except for the fact that God taught me the difficult lesson of forgiveness and moving forward when it felt safer to remain stuck.

I used to think “healthy” families had nothing unhealthy between them. Now I know that is not true. The difference between “healthy” families and unhealthy families is that the healthy ones just work harder at overcoming pain, offer greater forgiveness, and admit when they are in the wrong. Healthy relationships are only slightly different in that they are willing to stay and not run. Pain and struggle finds its way into ALL our human relationships. Giving one another grace, working at avoiding judgment, and always finding a way to work through the pain with one another is a large challenge but it grows you in a completely different way. The strong human desire to run is always there. The strong desire to avoid pain and to point to another individual as the reason for the pain is just how we are as humans. Learning to take responsibility for working through our pain is difficult but it is what we are called to do. At times working through our pain does require space but there needs to be an attitude of working towards relationship. Pain in relationships helps us focus on where our boundaries might be off. That is another important difference with “healthy” families—boundaries. Healthy relationships always have boundaries.  Boundaries teach us know how to treat/love one another. Boundaries keep us able to nurture other relationships. 

In the end I learned resentment and pain had several consequences. You can give into it, you can avoid it, or you can work through it with God. Working through it scares you and makes you feel like you might be accepting bad behavior but in reality it heals you. It allows you to move forward and not remain stuck. It takes you out of the judgment seat and puts you back into the seat of grace. These are all the lessons I have learned. Each person has to learn their own lessons in life and they have to experience their own pain in order to learn the lessons. I used to wonder why there is so much pain in the world. Now I know. It is because pain teaches us so much more than comfort. Without pain we would not even recognize comfort. Without pain we would not draw closer to God. Without pain we would think very highly of ourselves. Without pain we would think we could control everything. Without pain we would be weak, immature, and without purpose or resolve.  We would trust ourselves much more than we should. We would be highly judgmental and opinionated lacking humility, grace and forgiveness. Let pain teach you all the lessons it has for you. Open yourself up to your heart wrenching pain without taking the fastest train out of town it will be your way home. Constantly work toward relationship. It will bring about new hope. And lastly do your best to not compare yourself to anyone especially other people in your family. It will only steal your joy. :)