To the lady who judged my family: we’re all broken.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this, where to start… what to say… I’ll ask this first: Have you ever made mistakes?
Well, unless you’re Jesus, who I don’t think bothers reading my blog, you probably HAVE, in fact, made mistakes. And I’m probably safe in assuming you’ve made a lot of them.
Yet somehow there’s room in your world to cast judgment on others? On my family?
I know a lot of good families. I mean the parents have done right raising the kids, and the kids are all best friends. I know families who do everything together, even deep into adulthood. I know churchgoing families.
I also know a lot of broken families. I mean where the parents have made more than their fair share of mistakes, and some family members won’t even talk to other family members. There’s been hurt and betrayal and all kinds of sad things. I know families afflicted by addiction.
I’ll tell you one thing I don’t know: I don’t know of any perfect families. No. All families have issues, some graver than others, some smaller. Some families just manage to hide their issues better than others. And that’s fine; to each its own.
Every family has a story. Every family is a work in progress (or regress), and that’s because families consist of individuals making their own choices, however they may be affected by their parents or siblings. And I don’t know of any perfect individuals.
Families are a funny thing. You are closer to these people than anyone else. They know you like no one else does. And yet you can go months without seeing each other or talking. And still, you feel this deep bond and connection with them that knows no boundaries. How is that possible? I have only limited spiritual ideas on the topic, but I do know that it’s something that applies to my family.
I have a mom and a dad. They’re not perfect people. They got married. And they created four imperfect little people. And we have great, imperfect relationships with each other. You know what else we have? Perfect love for each other. I mean, OK, maybe we don’t all know how to express it the best way. There have been fights and violence and unimaginable things. But no matter how my family has torn itself apart, one thing we have always had is love.
Now, you can say anything you want about my family. You can say we’re dysfunctional. You can say we are just a bunch of addicts. You can lump us into these categories if you want to. But you aren’t in it, and so you don’t know us.
You don’t know how my mom took us to the doctor, gave us medicine, put Vick’s on our chest and throat, and checked on us in the night. You don’t know her kind heart for others behind her obstinate front.
You don’t know how many risks my dad took in work to provide, the dreams he gave up, or the worries he has for his kids. You don’t know his longsuffering and protectiveness behind his stern face.
You don’t know the immense musical talent of my oldest brother, his ability to listen and validate you, and make you feel like the most important person in the world. You don’t know his charisma that’s hidden behind his pain.
You don’t know the individuality of my second brother, who creates in his own ways and has a desire to be better, who freely offers words of admiration. You don’t know the care he has because of the words he doesn’t say.
You don’t know the sensitivity of my baby brother, whose intelligence and stubbornness is unrivaled by anyone else in my family. You don’t know the physical affection he freely gives because he doesn’t know you yet.
You don’t know me, my ambition, my work ethic, or my intense desire for all of these amazing people to find balance and happiness.
And wow, we are all broken. But we are not the family that hides its issues. Everyone can see, sometimes even the neighbors. We also don’t hide our love; we share it with each other readily and verbally and often. And even though you've judged us, we'd share our love with you too.
Yeah, you can always count on something going wrong between us. We’re all broken, after all. We’ve all made mistakes.
But so are you. So have you.
And if you really knew my family, well, I don’t think you could help but love us. Because we love us.