We are made up of the experiences and people around us. Our very DNA is influenced by who our closest friends and confidants are.
I’ve always been blessed to be a part of a family that is so unbelievably fantastic. The family unit is easily tossed around, demonized, and mistreated. Somehow, all that societal beating around and “follow your heart/do what makes you happy” short-term unfulfilling lie spouting avoided my parents. The world stuffs us full with ideologies that everything is about us and that we should do whatever it takes that we think would make us happy—so we all do these things and act these ways and then wonder why the world is filled with so much hopelessness. The end goal has never been and will never be something so shallow as “happiness.”
So we look at the world, we hear this advice, and we ask why there is so much divorce, so much familial strain, so much hatred toward those who have been built into our lives biologically as our support systems. (And I am NOT referring to families where there is abuse—that is the one instance in which there should definitely be distance and possibly cutting people off, depending on the situation.) When we are told that our discomfort is too high of a price, we will leave, we will be unfaithful, and we will hurt everyone around us. Sacrifice is uncomfortable, and in the midst of supporting those around us or trudging through the difficult times of a long, long relationship, we will probably be frustrated, tired and uncomfortable. We hear all the time, “It’s not worth it if it costs you your peace,” and I think the way the world seems to react to this quote, we have a huge misunderstanding of Peace. Peace is not a feeling—Peace is not comfort. Peace is an assurance and a deep-seated soul expectation and reality that the Kingdom of Heaven and it’s Kingdom Sowers (you and me!) are bound to the Eternal and the Victory and Final, True Peace and Rest that will cover everything, including our emotions. But right now, Peace does not mean feeling calm. I think the quote would read better with its often intended means like this, “It’s not worth it if it costs you your comfort.” Now that sounds like the mantra of our world. And we just eat it up—consuming it as truth because we LOVE to be comfortable.
You know what is uncomfortable? Living life with other people. Putting others first, not always getting the last cookie, last word, best seat, or biggest bowl of ice cream. Those are silly examples but family life and familial relationship is built on sacrifice. Anyone willing only to do less than that is going to find their siblings call infrequently, their conversations with parents short, and their extended relatives only knowing anything about your life from what your parents can tell them. Being in a family is hard, being in a family can be uncomfortable because we all like being right and not humbling ourselves to say sorry—and it becomes especially hard because the people closest to us know the most about us, and it becomes easier to wound deeper, both on our end and theirs. Vulnerability opens us up to pain, of course, most things involving any kind of love do, but there is nothing so sweet as being able to come home, sit around the dinner table with the people who have known you the longest and the most deeply, and be totally and completely yourself. But that comfort, that trust, that vulnerability, comes with a lot of work and a lot of discomfort. And throughout your life, you will find, you must have hard conversations with those you Love the most, and all it will do, when the discomfort comes and makes things a little awkward, is make the relationship even richer on the other side.
We are all growing and changing and moving—we can move in the direction of comfort, but in that space, we will often find loneliness and, oddly enough, incredible discomfort. However, when we allow our “peace” to be sacrificed in the short term, when we can see beyond the discomfort of our present moment, confrontations, and frustrations, we will find the greatest community, most freeing relationships, and Peace that is actually lasting. When our families look like that—willingness to compromise, engage, fight, apologize, cry together, and be honest—they come out the other side looking so much like the Kingdom, like a mini unit of the Body of Christ.
The end goal is Jesus—pursuing anything less than Him is to chase a shadow, to be caught up in nothing truly important—to be obsessed with the arrows pointing to the True One. Let us cast off our desires to pursue comfort, especially in our familial relationships, in order to pursue Jesus in those most important little communities.