Every Family Needs a Little Wiggle Room

When God formed my family I'm sure he had the virtue forgiveness in mind. We are large in number, vast in personality, and when provoked all of us tend to breath fire! Despite our quantity, diversity, and tendency to heat things up we have a genuine love for one another. In fact, I couldn't imagine life without these crazy people.

Being the seventh of eight I've experienced what it's like to have 4 moms and 2 dads. Making major decisions (or even minor ones for that matter) was like presenting an idea to a hostel board room. EVERYONE had an opinion. The biggest example that comes to mind was when I decided to leave after only 2 years of college to go on a mission for my church. Oh my, you would have thought I wanted to join the circus. I heard discussion after discussion as to why I shouldn't go. But in the end, I went. It was hard but it was the right thing for me.

From that experience and others like it I've learned to forgive my family when we don't see eye to eye. In my head I call it giving them some "wiggle room." They are my family and we've been through too much together to be torn apart by our trite imperfections.

When family dynamics become too much for me to understand I often ask the dreaded "whys?" Why is family so important? Why is it so hard to get along? At times it would be so easy to throw my hands up in defeat and never speak or see these people again!

I've have been at real odds with some of my family members (usually over in-laws) and that's when I feel the worst. I can't help but feel there is something rocking my foundation when I'm fighting with a sibling. Most times the problems are easily solved with some time and a pair of forgiving hearts. But some issues are complicated and take more time, more forgiveness, adding some prayer, and a little faith.

I truly believe in family. I believe it can be difficult and joyous. But I also believe that divine characteristics can be developed working within a family. I do not believe in the "perfect" or "ideal" family mainly because there's no growth when there's no resistance. I feel in the end my family will be as colorful and passionate as Day One but our love and devotion to one another will be unmatched.

The other day my mom joked that when our family is all "on the other side" she will lovingly but earnestly hand the mantel over to my dad (who died when I was young) and say "I did the best I could; it's your turn to fix this mess!" I giggled but in my heart I knew the truth in her jest. We may not all belong to the same belief system our parents painted for us but I think my dad would be proud of our efforts to love and forgive one another. I think he has always had faith in us as a family.

Joyce Brothers once said, "When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses." I don't typically look for wisdom from a 1960's advice columnist but I feel the principle rings true today. I'm at my happiest with my family around me. They mean the world to me and I to them. Each day brings it's own problems but they seem conquerable when I have a family member to talk to or to laugh with. Now, isn't that worth a little "wiggle room?"


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