The Celebration and Challenge of Family

Our family spent last week together in the mountains of Western North Carolina. It was our first step in an annual tradtion of bringing our now adult family together. My hopes for this time, while good, must be guarded carefully. Reality has a funny way of tempering our dreams.

CIMG0065 On our final morning in North Carolina I wrote these thoughts in my journal...

Father, I'm pleased with our first steps in bringing our family together. The big win is that took our first step. I think everyone enjoyed being together. There were good conversations and connections throughout the week - we laughed, ate together, celebrated Father's Day and Jono's birthday, enjoyed meaningful conversations together. Maybe most important we were present with each other - sharing the memory of being in the same place at the same time.

At the same time it was a reminder of the challenges and complexities of bringing eight adult lives together. While we're changing as people, we're still the same. In the course of the week together we saw the growth but we also bumped into the habits we still find annoying, we fell back into the same roles we played in the past, and we brought with us the baggage of our flesh patterns - saying and doing things that irriate and hurt one another. As a father I see the gaps in my young adult kids I hope will change with time and maturity. I am also reminded of how hard it sometimes is to keep pursuing and keep pressing in - even with those I deeply love. There were times I felt hurt or troubled by how someone resonded or didn't respond to something or someone during the week. There were times I wanted to withdraw - not exactly sure how to press in with an adult son or daughter. There were times I wanted to 'take control'. I'm still learning how to respect my kids and the process by which you are shaping them. Still learning to accept and love them when change comes slowly, if at all. Still learning what my role will be in their lives as adults and how best to lead my family in this new season. And learning something new - how to invite them into what I dream for our family in the next season of our story.

It's part of what makes family such an awesome but awful adventure. Loving people so familiar yet so mysterious. I was reminded throughout the week of the place of faith and the expression Paul uses to summarize living the Gospel - "faith expressing itself in love" (Galatians 5:6). While I trust You to change the lives of my children and their future family, my role is clear - I continue to love.

Upon reflection...not only good advice for living with my natural family...but with myspiritual family.

Fighting for your hearts,

Gary Franklin