“Everybody is looking for family, even if they are running from it.”
I heard someone say this a few months ago and I’ve been reflecting on it ever since. We live in a world that elevates the individual: independence, upward mobility, and professional success are powerful cultural values that encourage us to leave our families– sometimes as single young adults relocating for a job, sometimes as young parents struggling to raise children far from their extended relatives, sometimes as divorcees or older singles uprooting from their community. These values (which are of course not entirely bad) can often cloud other reasons we have for our isolation. Sometimes we think we are running “to” a job, a career, or a beautiful area of the country, when we are often also running “from” the people and relationships that have wounded us the most.
The fact remains, however, that we are relational creatures in the image of a Trinitarian God. We are designed not to be upwardly mobile individuals, but interdependent members of a family. As Tory says each Sunday in his final blessing, we are created to experience the ‘divine circulation of love’ that is God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So however afraid we are of familial relationships, we can’t help but also crave them. This is why seemingly casual or professional spaces often become highly familial in our culture– I’ve heard people say that CrossFit is their family, or that their favorite bar is where their deepest relationships reside.
What can or should the Church do in light of these realities? In a sentence– and this is what Amore helps us do– the Church is called to heal the family and to be the family. First, in our ministry to families, we can support the fundamental human relationships that construct us. Strengthening marriages, empowering parents, helping adult children and older adults navigate significant transition seasons in their family relationships; these are all powerful “preventative medicines” that protect our most precious resource– people.
But additionally, the Church is called to be the family. This is in fact our most fundamental identity: we are children of God. When we live as such, we become an attractive community for isolated people who are hungry to be known. What’s more, as we grow into the image of our Father, we begin to see with His eyes which means we begin to look at every person we encounter as a son or daughter, a brother or sister. Perhaps they are estranged from the Family dinner table and need to be welcomed back in; perhaps they are suffering from deep relational wounds and need to be healed; perhaps they are struggling with loneliness and need to be embraced. In a world of isolated individuals, may we in the Church learn to receive and to give the familial love that alone can restore us!
“Everybody is looking for family, even if they are running from it.” Where do you find yourself in this statement? In what way(s) have family relationships hurt you? Who in your life has reached out to you in a way that brought healing? How might God be calling you to be the family for someone in your workplace/neighborhood/school?