The Family I Always Wanted
We all need a small group of people who will echo God’s love for us and His belief in us.
In an ideal universe, these are the people closest to us, our immediate families.
But this is not the case for so many people.
The wounds so many people carry are not from the opinions of strangers
but from the opinions of the people they love.
Savor~ by Shauna Niequist
I read these words this morning knowing I have what everyone wants and needs and so few experience— a loving, affirming family who actually like each other.
I cry mama-tears as I remember the years and years of hoping for this, despairing that my children would ever get along, that maybe this ideal is unrealistic, impossible. How I wondered if they would grow up to hate me for all those broken edges that poked and hurt and sometimes (oh how I wish it wasn’t true!) – wounded.
The truth is, ours is not and never was the Ideal Family.
We are too willful, too wordy, too opinionated to avoid hurting each other. But somehow the Spirit of God heard those not-possible prayers from all those years and did something impossible.
He created a family of us, for us, in spite of us.
And tomorrow my family will begin gathering in Southern California for a week of being us. Camp Comer officially begins Monday at Disneyland. Fifteen of us: Pops, John Mark, Tam, Beks, Steve, Beets, Brook, Matt-man, Simo along with the 5 Grands: Judester, Mo-man, Sunday-Love, Dukester, and baby Scar.
I’ll be there grinning, taking terrible pictures and being teased for it, heart so full I won’t know whether to laugh at the impossibility of us as we are or weep because of the impossibility of what we have become.
We are a family.
We belong, every one of us— those born into us and those married into us. We will be there for each other in times that include Disneyland and in times of tragedy or shame or loss or failure. We, better than anyone else, know each other’s worth. And each other’s less-than’s.
There is something incredibly safe about being all-together.
As if we are our own small democracy, a tribe of people who will defend each other’s well-being at all costs.
When, just this last week, we got the bad news about 5 year old Duke’s severe hearing loss in one ear, his need to get fitted for a hearing aid before he starts school this fall, the email thread thrummed with our collective grief— and with hope as well. That watching Mom go deaf has taken some of the terror out of what may lie ahead for this boy we all know has worlds to conquer. And who knows who else in our clan.
In the front pages of John Mark’s book is a real-deal endorsement from his little brother, written a year or so before John Mark stood in front of Matt and his bride to laugh and tease and preach just a little hell fire and brimstone at his wedding before declaring Matthew and Simona husband and wife.
All week Elizabeth will love us by cooking. Beks will bring books and stories, Steve will excite us about design, Simo will inspire us with her gentle elegance, Brook will have us laughing, Tam will understand, Matt will bring joy and balance, John Mark will get us thinking about things we didn’t know mattered, and Pops— he will make it all work.
And me? I will be filling up with this “small group of people who echo God’s love for us and His belief in us”.
I can’t help but think of all the young parents who are right in the thick of the part that feels impossible.
Moms who will get up this morning to another day of the same, wondering if all this work is worth it. Dads who had no idea how hard all this would be. May I just give you a peek into your future?
Fathers, don’t run away.
You stand to lose so much more than you can comprehend. Be faithful, be present, be loving, say loving things. Apologize when you blow it. Get help when you need it. Love on your wife like your future depends on it. Because it does.
Mothers, don’t be mean.
Be friendly to that man of yours even when you’re overwhelmed and think he could be, should be better. Love on those children even when you’ve reached your limit. Apologize when you blow it so they grow up knowing your frustration wasn’t their fault— because it isn’t. And please, watch your words.
Because someday, by God’s grace and a miracle or two, you will be planning your own version of Camp Comer.
And the fun starts now.
From an overflowing heart,
P.S. Do you have hopes for your family? Can you tell us?