We recently took a trip to Italy and met some of my husband’s long, lost relatives. God did so much in such a short time that it is taking me weeks and months to process the work that God did there. Everything you have ever heard about the warmth and openness of the Italian people is true. They have an understanding of and walk in a very natural grace for families. Through them we got glimpses of His view and heart for the generations.
Being in Italy and learning about generations of our family and seeing thousands of years of history really helped my perspective. This little snapshot that we call “now” is relatively insignificant in the big picture of what God is doing and creating. There have been times in the last few years that I’ve thought,”I should’ve raised tomato plants instead of children!” But our adventure helped me get a new vision for family and it helped me throw off the American pseudo-Christian lies of family perfectionism.
You know what I mean, the kind of stuff you get in many Christmas newsletters with photos of perfectly happy children and parents and only glowing reports of everyone’s achievements that make us mere mortals pause for a moment and think that perfect families should be attainable. Or even better, classes at churches that give the impression that raising kids and growing marriages is as simple as growing tomato plants and all you need to do is follow the instructions and you will get perfect families every time!
No, families are not do it yourself kitchen gardens. They are far more complicated than that and loads more fascinating! Families are made up of humans and humans are awesome creations, incredibly frustrating, always unique and never, ever have it all together! We can be free of the lie of perfectionism and lay down the expectations and guilt and condemnation that goes with it. I have seen people go to great extremes to hide their humanness. We have all done it at times. Our flesh is gross but trying to hide it is literally like trying to hide the fact that we have skin! The only thing we can do is face the fact that we are hopelessly human, impossibly imperfect and endlessly loved by a God who is so unafraid of our being human that He became one Himself. His perfect life, death and resurrection are all we need to cover ourselves and the only way to freedom.
If you are like me and have days that you look at your family and yourself and just shake your head and think, “Really, Lord?” then I have good news. You are part of the human race and it’s ok. God already knows how desperately we need Him. He already knew everything that would happen and has made provision to not only forgive and cover us but also to fully redeem everything! Don’t focus too much on the snapshot and never forget that it really isn’t about us. We are playing a small part in a very big, very exciting story that the God of the Universe is writing.