By Lisa Huddleston
Oh boy—family! You can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them.
I’m sure by now you’ve already guessed that I’ve been trying to make plans for the holidays. If not, then you either don’t have family of your own or you’re the one who goes to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving. I remember those days of “Over the river and through the woods” … but now my house is often the destination. And, truth be told, I really do love it. I’m a true homebody (recluse!), and I love that I don’t have to go anywhere else to celebrate. But attempting to work around multiple schedules and expectations does get to be a little trying at times. I am trying to make everyone happy. I am trying to stay sane. And I am trying to get through the whole ding dang time without killing anybody!
Amazingly God has spoken in the midst of all my pre-holiday angst to remind me that the gift of family is a blessing. And as he has also reminded me lately, we are blessed to be a blessing. Therefore, please, bear with me as I share a little of what I’ve learned this week about that blessed curse called “family.”
To begin with, family isn’t our idea—it’s God’s. From the beginning, God determined that it wasn’t good for man to be alone so he made a helper fit for him. “Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’” (Genesis 2:23). Adam knew family when he saw it—Eve belonged with him, and he belonged with her. Together they made a unit of one.
And that’s pretty much how it feels when a family works as it should. We belong to the whole unit. We fit and are recognized as a part of the group. We just know we’re home—no matter our condition, no matter our attitude, no matter our health or wealth. As Robert Frost put it, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there,/They have to take you in.” Adam saw Eve and cried, “At last!”
But not all of us have a family like that. Some of us are orphaned. Some of us are widowed. Maybe not literally, but maybe so. Life changes. Family evolves. Parents pass away. Children grow up and move. New people are added while others are subtracted. Family is not always as easy to define as we would like, and often there are many people who find themselves alone as the holidays approach. And God knew that from the beginning as well.
As the “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows … God settles the solitary in a home” (Psalm 68:5-6). He cares for those who are lonely, and he expects us as his sons and daughters to care for them as well. That is very good news for all of us whether we are on one side of that conjunction or the other. We may be lonely this Thanksgiving. Isn’t it a blessing to know that God cares and is our ever-loving father? Or we may have more than we can say grace over this year—more family than we can comfortably seat around the table or more than we have china to serve or more than we can fit in the same room at the same time. God sees our fishes and loaves and is just waiting to multiply the feast.
Ultimately the most important thing I’ve learned this week as I’ve fretted over schedules and plans is that it’s ridiculous to fret over schedules and plans. As a dear lady told me once, “God knows.” And he does. After all it’s his family that is gathering together and the purpose for our gathering is to give him thanks. Of course, he will provide for his children. Of course, he will give us all we need. He’s our father, and it’s good to belong to the King! Whew—at last!