You’ve heard that song by Kool and the Gang, haven’t you? "We are family. I got all my sisters and me." It’s a catchy song! Its upbeat vibe and message give it staying power.
Some people though might not like it precisely because of the lyrics. Maybe you don’t want to be associated with your family, or you might think your family is dysfunctional.
Whether we love our family or have mixed feelings, the concept of family is unavoidable. And what’s more, God values family. God’s family includes His son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God also calls us His children: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1 NIV)
If God values family, then what does that mean for us, especially if family members have hurt us? Here are some thoughts for us to consider:
1) Understand that all of us were brought up with a family culture. Whether we realize it or not, all of us have been influenced by our family dynamics and habits, and those dynamics can affect our current relationships and also our relationship with God. We might subconsciously think that our upbringing is the way people should behave.
For instance, say that your family likes to leave the television on at all times, even if no one is watching it. You then marry someone who always wants the TV off because that’s what your partner’s family did. And so now both of you are squabbling about whether it matters if the TV is on or not.
On a more serious level, maybe you grew up with a really strict parent, and there is a part of you that views God the Father as also being really strict.
2) We should pray for God to reveal to us any family dynamics that are affecting our relationship with Him and relationships with others. Sounds obvious, right?
And yet this is an area that might require continued prayer over a span of time because family dynamics and habits can be patterns that extend across generations. For example, one family trait might be having a hot-blooded temper. Sometimes that family trait is inherited from grandparent to parent to child because that was the example growing up.
3) If you find through prayer that the family dynamics you witnessed growing up are affecting your life now, know that God wants you to experience a healthy family dynamic that comes from being in a relationship with the Heavenly Father.
God knows your history and your family’s history, and He knows what areas in your life might need healing if you let yourself be open to Him. Restoring your relationship with your Heavenly Father facilitates the restoration of your earthly relationships.
Maybe that means forgiving a parent or caregiver who wronged you or understanding why some family behavioral patterns are actually bad patterns that you need to shake off. And for you to find that restoration, you might need to seek counseling or talk with a pastor, in addition to praying and reading the Bible continually.
Whatever state are earthly relationships are in, be encouraged that Jesus longs have a healthy relationship with you.