We are entering the time of year when special events seem centered around families. Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, graduations and family reunions are times when families come together. Hopefully the gathering is celebratory.

Unfortunately, family gatherings are not always happy times.  If the family is defined by legalities and genetics only, there is a chance that the relationships are not loving and healing.

Our early childhood experiences have profound effects on us.  Every child will experience some kind of trauma.  The degree of trauma does not seem as detrimental as the lack of healing afterwards.  Denial, blame and shame will bury the experience which will then keep sending up shoots of odd and often self-destructive behavior.  Healing needs a minimum of assurance of steadfast love and acknowledgment of the child’s experiences.

I remember thinking as a first-time parent that I was responsible for every thought and feeling of my daughter.  If she was going to be a happy healthy adult, I had to make sure her needs were met perfectly.  If she ever felt sad, mad or any other negative emotion, it meant I had done something wrong. It did not take me long to realize I had set myself an impossible task and she was much more resilient than I expected. She did not need the sterile environment.  She needed the freedom to experience and to explore.

And she could come up with mischief all on her own.

Parents need to be protectors and guides, not gods that micro-manage actions, words and emotions.  If there is any way in which a parent should be god-like it is in assuring steadfast and unconditional love.  Teaching right from wrong is important, but not as important as teaching about forgiveness and acceptance.

So, I would propose that we determine family by those whom we love and accept, more than by legalities and genetics.  It would be great if those conditions always overlapped.  If they don’t, choose love as the defining factor when you celebrate family times.

Pastor Phil Konz