Fish and Family

“Families are messy. Immortal families are eternally messy.

Sometimes the best we can do is to remind each other that we’re related for better or for worse…

and try to keep the maiming and killing to a minimum.”

-Rick Riordan, The Sea of Monsters


We’re going through another tough time in our family. A close family member struggles with demons that affect all of us. When they are going through one of “those times” the individual is hateful, spewing venomous words with the intention of maim. This mania fills emails and phone calls. No amount of distance can keep you safe. If you were in the family member’s house they would be in your face so close it would be difficult not to wipe their spittle from your face as they label and condemn your very existence. These times are somewhat easy to categorize. We know this family member is down and going through rough time. Things will even out in a few days. They will somewhat realize the destructive path carved around them was yet again caused by them. There will uncomfortable, embarrassing, messy apologies where the individual degrades themselves and promises that this time is new. It will never happen again. God is faithful even to them.

Until the next time.

You read all these books about boundaries and setting limits with destructive family members. You convince yourself that even though you know it’s not your fault you probably should have kept your mouth shut or in this case you should of said something helpful. You hear yourself saying ‘I will love them from a distance.” But the love just turns into abashed ignoring of actions and communication. You give yourself permission to seek out replacement relationships because what you have been given for family relationships is somehow a awful mistake. How could you ever deserve something as messy, and difficult, and imperfect?

You turn to the scriptures for solace, comfort, direction, and wisdom.

John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
John 15:17 “These things I command you, that you love one another.”

You hear your prayers repeated in your ears.

“Lord, let me help just one today.”

“Lord, let me be your eyes, ears, and hands.”

“Lord, lead me to help The Least, The Lost, and The Lonely.”

You come to the realization of all those times Jesus is talking about forgiveness, and unity, and peaceful living that in the middle of that He also created family to be a sacred relationship. It’s not some game God created to see if we could make it through the hurdles of life. He knew the people that he connected us through DNA would most likely be the hardest to share His love with. It is no accident or cruel concept that we live shoulder to shoulder with real people who live in a fallen world. People of our flesh and blood who fight or succumb to demons of mental illness, abuse, or addiction or any other lie of Satan. People cut from the same cloth as ourselves.

There is no mistake that God provided all kinds of avenues for us to guard and protect our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies. However, I’m not convinced He has given us a path to not love someone. Just because it’s easier to love someone else, God has not given us an out to not love the families He specifically placed us in.

With all those wondrous words I have to admit I’m tired of loving. My heart is aching right now. My flesh is coming with all kinds of evidence not to love. I’m weary behind my eyes. My stomach is in knots. My mind is exhausted. I just don’t want to anymore. But I keep coming back to loving and forgiving like God loves. He is faithful. He does not give up on me.

“Love me when I least deserve it, because thats when I need it the most…” 

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