“Family” provides familiarity and connectedness.  While sitting in a new property developer’s office trying to discern if we were a good fit, the conversation turned personal. Where did you grow up? What school did you attend?  Who are your people? We discovered we shared an aunt and had both attended her funeral, but didn’t know about each other. I was the missing cousin since childhood. Small world. Where do we go from here?

“Family” is complicated.  There are the divorced yet friends for the children’s sake. Some are blended families with two sets of moms, dads, and grandparents.  Family units without the security of a marriage license are gaining popularity. Open marriages (married but allowed to date others), and swingers (married but permit sex with different partners with spouse present) can be confusing to the children and can cause one of the partners to feel like they are not enough for their spouse. Depending on religious beliefs, social norms, or personal preferences same-sex unions may be ostracized from the larger family unit.

“Family” is enriching. There are those who are loving, generous, helpful, patient, kind, and prayerful. It is a joy to be around them.

But let’s be honest, not all family members are enriching. Some are difficult people.  Let me give you several examples:

  1. Brother Blamer – consistently makes poor life decisions but does not want to be responsible for the consequences. It is always everyone else’s fault.
  2. Lucy Lazy – wants what you have but does not want to work as hard as you do for it. She can’t understand why you won’t’ just give it to her.
  3. Linus Liar – tells unnecessary lies when no one asked for their opinion or advice. Will lie about the color of the sky while everyone is looking at it.
  4. Stella Stealer – when she visits everything of value must be hidden because she habitually leaves with items she did not bring without asking.
  5. Steve Stirrer – keeps mess going by “accidentally” revealing others’ recent mishaps: Mary’s boy flunked out of college; Bob’s daughter is pregnant; Roy is in jail for hitting his wife.

As a Christian, how do we show the love of God while interacting with the familiar and connected, the complicated, the enriching, and the difficult members of our families? My answer is  ASK GOD. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” – James 1:5. Ask God how to show appreciation to and for the pleasant family members and how to set boundaries for the unpleasant family members in a manner that pleases Him.

Share with us your advice for successful family life. #JoinTheConversation.