(Photo: The Rock Church)
I know a guy named David who has a mega complex family. In fact, it is so complex he feels the need to draw you a picture – a literal family tree – to show you his lineage.
Abandoned by his biological parents at an early age, he was raised by his ex-stepmother. That woman had a daughter with David's birth father. David's biological mother had five children with two different men, and his father had five children with three different women. So there are half-brothers and half-sisters he barely knows scattered around the country. It is no surprise that, even as an adult, David struggles to figure out where he fits in.
"My family is the very definition of dysfunction," he says. "But did you ever notice that within the word 'dysfunction' is the word 'function' in there somewhere?"
David did not grow up with the security of unconditional love. He spent his formative years looking for trouble, hanging out with the wrong crowd, and turning to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of abandonment.
God Loved You First
When you communicate love to a child, something beautiful happens in his heart and mind. It builds security and belonging. But when this basic need – love – is missing, children learn to feel alone and disowned.
Was your family rooted in turmoil or harmony? Maybe you, like David, did not experience love from the beginning of your life. Maybe, even today, you often feel unloved or wonder if love will wait, stay or return. If that's the case it's time to fully accept God's commitment to you: We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
God has loved you before you came to be, and He will never stop. He will never love you more or less, regardless of your actions. You cannot earn His love or prove yourself unworthy. This is not the result of actions you take or don't take, nor does it have anything to do with who you are as a person. It's because of who He is.
Let this sink in: God sees intrinsic and infinite value in you; therefore you are valuable beyond measure.
Dysfunction Is Not Destiny
A child's family is the most critical influence in his life. Through family, we build a self- image, learn how to resolve conflict, gain a concept of right and wrong, and come to understand who God is.
Whether we have developed a healthy or twisted perspective on these topics, there is no denying we have all been shaped by our families of origin. But that perspective can change; it's not a life sentence without the chance of parole.
Love, or owning a commitment, is not about liking or enjoying a person all the time. Love is unconditional; it says that we are committed to the relationship no matter what that person does. That is God's love for us, and it is the way He calls us to regard one another.
Connect with Your Heavenly Father
If you are struggling to forgive a family member, I encourage you to resolve the conflict today. As we move into the holiday season – where many of us will enjoy family gatherings – I encourage you pray for, and to reach out to, people who may not have close family bonds.
We are called to be God's hands and feet and that means it is our job to build up one another and introduce people in our lives to His concept of unconditional love. No matter what hand you were dealt as a child, no matter what your family of origin instilled in you, you have the opportunity as an adult to correct that view and connect with your heavenly Father. My prayer is that you receive the love and healing He offers and to be a conduit of that love for those around you.