Describe your family in one word.
This month at the GO is all about family. Earlier this week, we asked our social media family to describe their families in one word. Some of the responses were resilient, consistent, crazy, dysfunctional, broken, among several other adjectives (see WordArt for more). The most popular comment we received, however, was “crazy.” Now, that’s crazy! In one word, how would you describe your family?
Family is Family!
Families come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Some families have a few members, while others took it seriously and were fruitful and multiplied. Some families are connected while others are dispersed. Some families are loving, while others have some work to do. The dynamics within each family varies, and that’s what makes them unique. Family is family.
In the most traditional sense, we consider family the people who are related to us by blood and those received into our families through adoption. We have our nuclear family and extended family. But it does not stop there. Throughout our lives, we form bonds with other people, and we informally adopt them into our family because calling them friends would just not enough. That is the beauty of family; family indicates structure, security, and strong bonds.
While some people can relate to the joy of the family described above, many more of us correlate the word family with pain, disappointment, and judgment. For some of us, family caused us more pain than other people. Thus, it can be challenging to love and forgive when they are necessary. However, the gifting of love and forgiveness to our family is a true testament of our reverence to God. We must love our family and forgive them, too.
First comes love.
The definition of love is simple.
While the definition of love is simple, loving is not. When it comes to our families, we expect love to be unconditional. This may be true for some families, but in many cases, the love experienced in some families can be conditional and sometimes unrequited. These circumstances often leave us feeling as if we’re not good enough. However, God commanded us to love no matter what. It is easy to love those who love you. Nevertheless, the real indication of love is loving those who are difficult, unsaved, broken, and even crazy.
Moreover, love is not something that is simply felt and said, it is displayed through actions as well. For example, we should love those who reject us just as we love those who love us. We should give and serve without expecting. We should pray for them and not curse them. Often, because we experienced so much pain and disappointment, we may think putting up walls will protect us. However, while boundaries are necessary, walls are destructive. Boundaries protect, but walls divide. Not only is division destructive, but it is also not the way of God–a clear evidence of that was the crucifixion of Jesus, which removed the separation between God and us. Now, that’s love!
God loves, but how do we love?
To experience and, thereafter, exhibit true love, we must first accept the love of God. God loved us first. He loved us despite knowing our propensity to disobey Him. God loves unconditionally even when sometimes we love Him conditionally. He loves us deeply even when His love for us can be unrequited. He loves without question. He loves you most profoundly. By allowing yourself to accept and experience God’s love, you will become a conduit through which His love flows…freely.
Then, comes forgiveness.
In addition to love, forgiveness is another essential gift that we should give to our families. God commanded us to love, and He also commanded us to forgive.
We are all in need of forgiveness, and God is the only one who can wipe our slate clean. While God freely forgives us, He requires that we do the same for others. No matter the offense. We do recognize that some offenses cut so deeply that it’s difficult to forgive. We validate those feelings and acknowledge that they are real. However, while it may seem as if forgiving others is like letting someone off the hook, forgiveness is for our freedom as well. As long as we keep holding onto the offense in our hearts, we are committing suicide.
But you did not need a quote to tell you that. God had already asked us to forgive and doing so without hesitation is a testament of our reverence to God. Additionally, it is evident in Matthew 6: 14-15 that our forgiveness depends on how much we allow ourselves to forgive others.
God forgives, but how do we forgive?
To experience and, thereafter, exhibit true forgiveness, we must first accept the forgiveness of God. God forgave us first. He forgave even when we did not ask for it. If we’re conscious, we would also recognize that we are not deserving of God’s love and forgiveness. Yet, God loves and forgives us still. In the same way God desires to give us love and forgiveness, He commands that we give it to our family. By allowing ourselves to forgive others, we, in turn, receive more forgiveness from God.
Perhaps, it was not a blood or adoptive family member who hurt and rejected you. Maybe it was a stranger, a friend, or someone in the past, and you name it. Do love and forgiveness apply to them, too? Yes. They, also, are to receive the gift of our love and forgiveness. Are we not all children of God? We are all God’s children. We are all one big family; therefore, we all are to love, cherish, and forgive each other just as our God exemplifies.
Now, ask yourself these questions:
1. Is there someone in your family or your life right now that you’ve yet to forgive?
2. Is there someone in your family or your life that you’ve not extended love to?
If you answered YES to any one of these questions, then consider this post as a confirmation to act. Do what God has called you to do – to love and forgive. We often say at the GO that nations are waiting for your obedience. Well, love and forgiveness are necessary actions that display your obedience to God. Recognize also that before you can impact nations, you must first influence those around you and be a better example for them. They will see your actions of love and forgiveness, and you will be a testament to God’s love and forgiveness. Love without end and forgive without hesitation.
The journey to love and forgiveness will not be easy, but we’re here to help you through it. We welcome you into our family; you can come and sit with us.