As we walked through the store, I couldn’t take my eyes off of my oldest daughter and woman-child who is now taller than me. I said, “I love you,” a few times and lowered my voice as I told her about a family miles and miles away that decided it was too difficult to love each other up close.
She gasped. I ached.
My girl still holds my hand and has this need to be held, so I figure out how to show the stretched out, teenage version of her the same amount of love I did when she was easier to cradle. Just last week she was feeling bad so she sat in my lap. I couldn’t move or breathe, but I didn’t care. She got up and looked at me with a lopsided smile that asked, “Is this still okay? Can I still feel awkward in your arms and have that be okay?
“It’s not as comfortable as it used to be,” I said.
She smiled and nodded, but we both knew that even though it was uncomfortable, she still fit. We just had to work a little harder at it.
I keep looking at the ones I love, whispering inside, “You can change and shift, even shut me out at times, but you are welcome to hold awkward, holy space with me.”
You will always, always fit.
There is a change and shifting in families, you might think yours is the most dysfunctional family on the planet, but I’m pretty sure your wrong. I mean, you’ve watched reality TV, right? They only showcase the crazy ones, but we are all a different brand of crazy. Some hide it, some unleash it and end up on TLC.
Some of you will travel home for the holidays; maybe even hold your breath as you walk into a room filled with your family that feels more like strangers. What they need to know, and what you need to know, is that it can absolutely be uncomfortable, but still fit. You just have to work a little harder.
So, you’re different. They feel different, too, just in different ways.
You bring up your children differently.
You have different hobbies and things you love.
You live on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to neighborhoods and community.
Some love Jesus, some love Jack Daniels, they love and are loved…and desperately need Jesus just the same as you.
We can belong or blend. We can fake blending but belonging is deeper because it’s unconditional.
There can be unwanted tension in the air from holding onto things that should be in the past. You can feel the fractures if you want to or you can push through the awkward and say, “You belong with me and fit…even when we disagree.”
I want to love you like Jesus does and that looks sacrificing a few things, the biggest thing will always be our pride.
You don’t have to be like me for me to love you.
I don’t have to be like you for you to love me.
I know how difficult the reaching out and pulling back in relationships can be. I understand the ache of trying to figure out ways to fit as flesh and blood instead of strangers. I remember us trying to figure out where to place the other with the familiarity that lingered between us, through wordless months and visits that never happened. Daddy’s little girl grew up and I think that is when we grew apart.
Sometimes I loved him better and knew that he felt it, and at other times I warred trying to make it look like love. But, it just looked like indifference because loving others well is painfully hard and risky. I realized I couldn’t have a healthy relationship with an unhealthy person, but I don’t think I figured out how to make sure that my love was bigger and stronger than our differences.
I would give anything to go back and hold on longer during that last hug. Or, say, “I love you, you fit, you belong, and I need even the broken version of you.”
I would stay and visit longer.
I would make that extra trip.
I would say all of my best and loving words and swallow all the bad ones.
I would live with a see-through heart and never try to cover that up, even when vulnerability feels like shards.
I say thank you for the way he loved me even when it hurt, even when we loved wrong; and for always showing me that I fit. We never stopped belonging or loving each other, even when we were breaking.
I can’t tell you how to fix a broken relationship, but I can tell you to try. Try to let them know they fit and belong and that you are ready to love them in a way that makes sense to them.
I pray we will love as Jesus loves and that together, with his help, our families will begin to heal in the tender space of belonging.
So much love to you,
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35(NKJV)