Some children have big playrooms and soft beds and Pinterest-themed birthday parties. Others sleep on the bathroom floor. Christmas comes and there’s no tree or toys. School starts and the shoes on their feet are second-hand and pinch their feet. Dad left the scene or there’s fighting all the time.
If the latter was your experience, it wasn’t fair.
Some women have mothers who call twice a week. Who never forget their birthday. Who laughs at their jokes and volunteer to babysit. Others have moms who are mentally ill, addicted, or so bitter that their words feel like flames.
If you are the latter, let’s be honest. It’s hard when others have what you so desperately want.
As I travel across the nation, sitting across from beautiful women like you, I hear your stories.
I want my [fill in the blank] to treat me with respect.
Growing up in a dysfunctional family hurt my heart.
I’d give anything if I’d had a family like . . .
Once we acknowledge that it isn’t fair, let’s look at what we can do.
You can become the family you always wanted
There were three things I longed for when I became a wife and eventually a mother.
In order to offer stability, I had to let go of my past.
I had to be honest about what I couldn’t change so that I had the freedom to embrace what I could change.
To offer laughter, I needed to discover joy.
I found that in my relationship with God. I found it by living like an adventurer — on the lookout for the miracles all around me today, and there were many when I opened my eyes to them.
In order to offer relationship, my children and husband were given a clean slate.
They weren’t responsible to fix the decisions that someone else made a hundred years ago, or even last week.
My children were allowed to be innocent. I offered them the Suzie of today, the one God was healing, rather than the broken one of yesterday. If they messed up (like kids do) I didn’t need to remind them of how good they had it, or how bad things once were for me. It wasn’t their job to help me create a perfect family. It wasn’t their job to be the poster child for what a good parent could do.
That was God’s job and He was doing an incredible job.
And Richard and I could just be us — imperfect, a family, people who liked each other most days, who laughed together a lot, and who worked through the hard places when they came up.
Open the door to healthy community
I have three adults who call me Mama Suzie.
It’s a privilege and it came after they lived with our family for short periods of time. Each of these have pretty messy biological families. They love them, but it’s not always a healthy environment for them or their children.
Richard and I first became their community and later a second family. What a privilege!
Some of us try for years to make our bio families into what we wish they were. When it doesn’t work, we get angry. We get mad at God. We feel shortchanged.
But there are people in your life who can settle into those roles — encourager, mentor, teacher, friend, supporter, family.
Begin to ask God to show you who they are. They might be right under your nose.
Something really powerful takes place when we open our hearts to include community as a second family.
It releases you from trying to make someone who isn’t ready, able, or who desperately wants to but doesn’t know how to be family be something they can’t be.
It allows the door to open in your heart for really good things like compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance of what they are able to give and to be grateful for that.
And last, and one of the most beautiful gifts, is that you are freed to become community (and family) to someone else when the time is right.
Here’s three tips for opening the door to community:
- Ask God to lead you
- Intentionally connect with the family/church/small group that God places in your path
- Don’t expect a community to fix you (God is your need-meeter exclusively)
- Have fun!
What about you? Share one way you helped build the family you always wanted.
Tell us about one way you opened the door to healthy community.
These are resources to help you become the family you long to be.
These links help support this ministry. Thank you so much. ~ Suzie
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