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Family Reunion
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Robert Frost wrote, “Home is the place where when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” That may be the case, but do you really want to be taken in? Do you really want to go back?

Whether or not you do, something surreal happens during a family reunion – at least in my family – you really do go back and not in a good way. In my foray back for a family reunion to the wilds of Virginia where I was born and raised with three brothers, I discovered that although I have changed greatly throughout the years and my brothers have also changed and grown, once reunited, we revert to our old ways.

I will be the first to admit that when I was a little girl I played my part as only daughter in a manner befitting an award-winning actress. I enjoyed being the one who had a room by herself because it wouldn’t be appropriate to room with one of the boys. I was allowed to cry and have dreadfully difficult times of the month. During the ensuing years, I felt I had grown appropriately into a mature adult and wise mother of two grown children.

Since leaving the nest, each of us has made a contribution to society. One of my brothers is the head of an English department in an Adventist college. One brother was awarded the Zapara award for teaching excellence, the baby brother is a nurse and an acupuncturist and I’m the managing editor of a magazine.

Sibling Responses

So what do all of these accomplished people do when they get together? Well, at first we giggled a lot and made up stories about our parents and the one brother who was late. We looked at pictures and recounted can-you-top-this stories. At 9:30 p.m., the late brother arrived and he brought an angry cloud with him. He was angry about how I’d invited him to the reunion. He thought I made it more of an audience with the queen rather than an “I’d really like to see you baby brother.” My middle brother – the passive one – decided it was time to go home and my older brother – the placating brother – tried to make peace. I placed the final blessing on everything and asked everyone to leave my room and I cried. What a great reunion.

Falling back into old habits and relationships doesn’t only happen within the family, it happens within the church also. Do we stick fellow church members into a box and never let them out? Maybe it’s a box labeled “whiner/complainer,” and instead of listening to that person’s comments we turn a deaf ear. How are we going to hear them when they really have a problem?

How about the person we’ve pinned an invisible sign on that says, “No use asking him to do anything because in 1998 he turned down the nominating committee when they asked him to work in Cradle Roll.” Since that time, maybe Mr. Invisible Sign has been practicing on his Cradle Roll skills just waiting for a second chance.

Then there’s Ms. Failed Marriage. “If she couldn’t get along with that nice husband of hers, then she probably can’t get along with anyone, so let’s ignore her.” It might be that Ms. Failed Marriage turned summersaults to save the relationship but failed anyway. She’s lonely and needs a friend but a lot of people shun her now that she’s available.

Mr. I Haven’t Been to Church in a While was just beginning to come back to church, but we notice he spends a lot of time in the foyer during the services. We ignore him because it’s obvious that he’s not really interested in coming back to the fold or he’d be on the front row saying “Amen” and filling the offering plate. It’s possible that Mr. I Haven’t Been to Church in a While hates sitting alone and hopes that someone will ask him to join them.

It may be too late to change the way my family of origin relates, but I belong to another family. When my church family let’s me grow and change, be grouchy or sad, silly and giddy, astute or dense without labeling me forever as this or that, I can become the best part of the body of Christ that I can become. It’s only by exercising and accepting our differences that we can become the powerful family of God that capitalizes on its unity of diversity.

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By Dee Reed. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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