31 There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. 32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. 33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? 34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.
A couple nights ago, we had our first night alone in over a month since the wedding. That doesn’t seem like the most romantic way to ‘start’ your new life together… but it was enjoyable to have a house full of loved ones… laughter… conversations over coffee in the RV with the folks… bonfires… drive in movie nights… meals around two tables… and a sense of community with people who have remained close through thick and thin. The honeymoon is coming soon.
Without divulging to much into the nitty gritty of specific conversations and experiences that were had, here are some reflections of recent weeks gone by…
We are reminded of a part of the gospels where Jesus’ ‘mother and brothers’ showed up outside a home that he was teaching in. The house was packed… people were attentively listening to his upside kingdom teachings… and outside the doors come his ‘family’. One of the people inside the house comes to him and let’s him know that his family is waiting outside and would like to talk with him. Rather that ask the crowd for a few minutes that I am sure they would have obliged him with… he uses this as an opportunity to explain that his true family is already in the house with him.
That is quite a rejection if you ask us.
With this statement, Jesus expands the boundaries of family beyond blood relatives and spouses to include those who hunger for godly relationship and actions. Simply being a blood relative is given a second chair if that relative is unwilling to enter into a godly intimacy… that knowing and being known we’ve written so much about. In Jesus’ mind, what really counts are the choices one makes after one is born, not the folks one is related to through no personal decisions.
This has been an important passage of Scripture for us to wrestle through over the past year as some who are ‘blood relatives’ have refused to enter into our lives in a face to face way, but simply remain at arm (or texts) length and play the, ‘I love you because we are (enter functional family name here).’ … and then refuse to do something as simple as have a cup of coffee with us… all the while doing the old ‘talk about instead of to’ thing.
The past month brought a lot of people together… and not all of them were blood relatives. Some were friends that stopped by to wish us some congratulations for our new life together. Some were sons and daughters… and people loved like sons and daughters… some were moms and dads from birth… others have become moms and dads as intimate relationships have grown.
Our family is quite a Mosaic of different people… from different places… who are willing to enter into intimacy with us… who are willing to know and be known together. Many thanks to Jesus for giving us this permission, and not leaving us in the chains of functional family positions.
One of our favorite times of the day over the last month was dinner time… or coffee time in the RV. We had on average 12-18 mouths to feed for dinner every night, and it was enjoyable to share the responsibilities of preparation, partaking and clean up with these people. Everyone chipped in, and their was (usually) plenty to go around.
Technology (and the lack there of…)
The day and age we live in provides opportunity for everyone to be plugged in to something. This is not inherently good or bad. It was fun to watch the kids work on a computer game together… or watch aunt and nephew create a virtual world together that only they understood… or texting from the grocery store to see if anything was needed for the house.
But… the downside is in fact that technology can rob us of connection. The last few weeks have seen the introduction of our ‘Culture of the Home‘. One of the items in this manifesto is that phones, tablets, computers… etc… go off at 9 o’clock for the purpose of unplugging from the ‘wifi’ and plugging into each other. We weren’t sure how much kick back we were going to get… but we expected it. Humbly, we can say… it went pretty well from an attitude stand point. We had a few moments where it appeared like one of the kids was going through withdrawal from crack or something, but for the most part it was good.
The results have been fun… on night one, all the girls in the house started doing each others hair… in the following evenings, Scrabble became a center of attention… nearly every night involves all of us getting cozy in the chairs and on the couches under the blankets watching episodes of the Waltons together.
Nothing more to say on that… other than… our hearts are happy in that cutting off the technology has in fact resulted in more time together as human beings.
We are simple people. We like to talk… to process… to understand. One of our commitments to each other has been to intentionally take time away simply to be together. And when the house is as full as it was, it would have been easy to neglect this important piece of our relationship. That is something that we cannot afford to have happen.
And we didn’t let it happen.
We were able to get out of the house quite often to find each others pace… to debrief after a stressful time with an antagonist… to watch the birds… to dream about what can be created next in the home… to just talk.
We are best friends first and foremost, and we miss each other when not together. The challenges we face are unique to us in that those who would desire to separate us are forceful at times. We have children to help transition into a new family who have are already well on their way to finding their place here, but who are also struggling through what it means to understand that accepting this new family is not rejecting anybody or anything. We have a few functional things to take care of… we have a garden that needs weeding… we have grass that needs to be mowed and dishes that need to be done. We have schedules to balance… and snuggling to do…
all that being said…
We’ve been given a second chance to make heart vows to another person. This is something that we do not take lightly as we both made many mistakes in the past. Enter into the equation that we have children who are finding their way through this blending of two lives that have experienced a beautiful collision, and that we have some folks that have no intention of living in peace with the separation of relationships that have been dissolving for years, and we have come to the understanding that our oneness needs to be intentional.
Any decision made for or against one of us… is a decision made for or against both of us.
The dissolution of past relationships was an internal ‘death’.
The nature of the relationship that we share now came after there had already been nothing left to salvage in the past. The circumstances of our relationship now tends to lend itself to people being able to point fingers and say that our sin is what broke up the family. An honest and humble look at the past makes clear that even before we knew each other, sin had already had its way to dissolve a past relationship. This is not an attempt to justify anything… it is just a clear picture of the reality that we have lived through.
All that being said… we do not take each other for granted. We will not allow each other to be treated as property. We will establish a culture of love and acceptance in our home, regardless of how others will conduct their business… on their property. We will stand for and with each other. We are willing to instill these values into our family, even if it is not the easiest or most direct route. We will let others be responsible for their actions, if carrying the weight of their sins is something that we, in martyr fashion, carried for them in the past.