Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Perfectly normal

I laughed when I saw this cartoon. So few of us would see other people's families as normal. Some of us even think our own tribes are a bit crazy. And many of us grew up in nuthouses, where the grown-ups refused to take responsibility for their character or actions.

My folks provided a stable environment. Dad left work at work, brought home a regular income, paid the bills. He also made us do Canadian Army calisthenics, built winter slides out of wood and water, and let us tunnel through the backyard when the snow drifts got deep. Mom stayed home, made sure our clothes were washed, our food was deliciously nutritious, weeded the yard and garden, and tucked us into quiet, clean beds at night. We had daily family devotions and went to church three or four times a week. We volunteered, took music lessons, and did our chores.

We had curfews, too. I was expected in by 11pm, while I was in high school. "Aw, Dad!"

"What's there to do after 11?" he countered. (He was right, as usual.)

My friend Penny shocked me when we were 18. "Your family has always been 'different,'" she said. We were sitting in the car, chatting after an evening out. "You just follow your father like sheep. My mom said, 'If those Daher kids heard their dad say, Jump, they'd ask, How high?' Your parents are control freaks."

My parents were controllers? That had never crossed my mind. Our respect for our folks was a bad thing? I was stunned. They looked out for us, loved us, and let us experience life in creative and fun ways, as well as instilling discipline and keeping an orderly household.

On the other hand, Penny didn't respect her much-older parents. She didn't mind them, either. They had a detached sort of relationship: she'd never think of discussing boyfriends, her feelings, or anything that was important to her.

In contrast, we laughed, shared our days, and argued nearly every topic of interest in our kitchen. We ate supper together every night, and we talked about whatever interested us, including what was going on in church, school, home, among friends and family. ... Of course we had our teen secrets, growing up, and trying to get away with whatever we could. We pushed the boundaries, tested our limits and the patience of our parents.

And we knew that if Dad forbade something, that was the end of it, at least if we didn't want to get punished. Or if we couldn't negotiate a better deal. The year I was 15/16,  I was grounded for parts of 4 months: for coming in 6 minutes after curfew, for sassing him or mom, and ? Can't remember what it was all about, but it was a simple, effective - well, sort-of-effective - discipline.

"Do you think this is working?" I asked Dad, the fourth time.

"Not taking away anything from me," he replied. "Working for me, I guess."

That made me chuckle, but it also made me think about my actions and their consequences. I liked going out, and missed the weekly swims, roller-skating, or other dates. I tried to mind better. Maybe it made Dad think, too. He never grounded me again.

God's family is strange too, let's face it. Viewed from inside or outside, we are dysfunctional, petty, stubborn, and hypocritical. We try to make ourselves look good by dressing up inside and out. But really - let's admit it - most of us have "issues," whether rooted in our characters, our backgrounds, or our experiences.

Around our Christian family table, it's best to be honest about life, loving, and serving, rather than coming with masks and defenses ready. We may be as nutty or individualistic as non-Christians, but we come together to be lavished with (and to extend) loving-kindness, gain knowledge of God our Father, and to comfort and care for each other. We may not always agree, but we trust God for insight and wisdom as a community - as the family of God.

I love to meet with believers who have integrity. They may not air all their grievances, dirty laundry, or wretched past with every bystander. But they speak Truth from their deeply broken humanity, in a community of faith. Forgiven, they forgive. Created, they are creative. Deeply loved, they love others the way they love God and themselves.

Oh, makes me want to go to Church, just thinking about it. Ready to join us?

Read more:
*But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressionsit is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.For it is by grace you have been saved, through
faithand this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:4-10 NIV


  1. love your story Rosemee... great.. I think my kids had those to tell as well. Lots of love and lots of walls-- and lots of time! They have turned out to be wonderful women of God- and I am so very thankful for being that weird Christian family!

  2. "But they speak Truth from their deeply broken humanity, in a community of faith. Forgiven, they forgive. Created, they are creative. Deeply loved, they love others the way they love God and themselves." - very, very beautiful. thanks for taking time to write that.