Home For the Holidays: Are You Prepared?

Contrary to popular sentiment, the holidays are not full of cheer for everyone. They can be a reminder of a lost loved one, a difficult season of life, a lack of resources to buy things for others or past hurts in one’s family of origin. If the latter is true, how can you think about the coming holidays in ways that are guided by the grace of Christ?

Broken Families and the Bible

Read almost any Bible story and you will realize that God is very familiar with flawed family dynamics. King David, one of the greatest heroes in the Bible, was the father of a dysfunctional family.  His son, Absalom, conspired to murder him and take over as king, and David had to fight for his life against his own son.

The Perfect Family Does not Exist

None of us grew up with perfect parents or perfect siblings and none of us were perfect children or siblings. This truth is not meant to excuse or minimize the evil and abuse that takes place in some families, but it does remind you that every family has “baggage.” God is able to redeem family relationships that are broken by sin, and give you the grace to respond to your parents and siblings in ways that are wise and loving.

Your Family of Origin Does Not Determine Who You Are

Not only are family sins redeemed by God’s grace, so is your family background.  We often assume that those who grow up in a “good” family will turn out “good,” and those who grow up in a “bad” family will turn out “bad.”  It’s true that we are shaped by our family of origin, and we can see their mark on us in good and bad ways. But your identity and future is not determined by your family of origin. Your new identity as a member of God’s family will make it possible for you to change the way you relate to your family.

Do You Have to Love Your Family?

The simple answer is yes. But if you have grown up in a very difficult family where parents and siblings have actively sought to harm you and where harmful behavior was the norm, the answer becomes more complicated but it does not change. God takes your suffering seriously and can identify with the hurt and sorrow you feel.  He is not distant, silent, or passive. He wants to redeem your troubled family relationships, and he is calling you to be a part of that redemption by loving your family.

Be encouraged, there is someone who can help you. We will discuss that in our next post.

 

For more on this subject, read Family Feuds: How to Respond  Copyright©2008 by Timothy S. Lane

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Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at CCEF in Philadelphia, PA (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation). Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches.  For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.