The air was thick with tension. My kids’ wet faces flushed with the evidence of the sibling squabble gone wrong. Hurt hearts burst out stinging words. I know they weren’t meant, yet they couldn’t be taken back. Their outbursts shocked me as I internally scrambled through my child-raising handbook for the winning recipe for this situation and remembered that my luck-of-the-draw canned response did not exist. I would need Holy Spirit for this.

While desire for peace showed in their tender eyes, their body language dripped with anger and defensiveness. A few more words from one of them and the other turned to walk away.

“No. Wait.”

You see the Gospel has been becoming more real to me than ever, oddly most of all in the bumps and bruises that often happen in a home 100% made up of imperfect people, clashing personalities, special needs and hormones for good measure.  Lately, in the messes of relationship when I’m searching for an easy button, a gentle nudge has been stirring my heart to say radical words in the seemingly most inconvenient times.

“I know you’re hurt and you have lots of feelings right now. It’s okay. Please come.”

They hesitated, but came.

“I know there is a lot to talk about, but I don’t want to do that quite yet. I just want to say…I love you.”

I squeezed their tense bodies and held their hands.

“I’m so glad God put us in a family together. I am so happy I get to be your mommy. Daddy feels the same. You are each one a priceless treasure and even though it doesn’t feel like it right now, we are God’s good gift to each other – all of us.  Before you were born, God put you in this family with these siblings and it put a big smile on His face. We belong together. On our worst day, God is with us. He’s not scared of your failures and mistakes, even when you’re right in the middle of a mess. Our enemy is not each other. It’s the lie that wants us to believe we don’t belong, that we have to earn it, or have to walk alone. Christ proved that’s not true. His love is right here, even when we’re falling apart.”

Tension shifted to openness in the words that may have seemed more well suited for a family day looking more like kumbaya. But no.

“At the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)

Christ showed us we belonged, not because we deserved it, but because Love is His nature. It can’t be undone by our shifty motives or reckless behaviors. Jesus’ life told the story of an epic love mission with no guarantees of our grateful response. Yet the earth buckled under the weight of extravagant Love poured out. Sacred presence that had long been held within curtains too heavy for man, presence only experienced by a priest once a year, presence that required elaborate rituals of cleansing and sacrifice – that thick glory broke out on the tattered roads inhabited by normal people just like you and me. (Matthew 27:50-51) You see, love changes atmospheres and opens up the limitless possibilities of redemption’s kiss in our most broken places.

I’m not talking about ignoring the issues or sweeping conflict under the rug. Rather, we seize our greatest opportunity to shift an atmosphere when we yield to the power of His love for us in the stormiest seconds of our lives. His love gives us a safe place to repent. It invites us into humility. And when we sow that same love – that same belonging – into our family, it may just be the courage that hurting heart needs to forgive, to stay tender, to audaciously believe that there is no situation or conversation we will face as a family that God is not in our midst. He is closer than the mention of His name. Mighty to save. Eager to restore. Ready to heal and like a mother hen to gather.

So friends, we’ll enjoy the laughter and good stuff of family with gusto and gratitude.  But when a storm hits and emotions flare, we’ll remind ourselves that we are on a love mission. We’ll lean in for His still, small voice and look for ways to partner with His redeeming hands in our home.

If you’d like to here more about this, I go a little deeper in this 11 minute video.

If you have questions or comments, please leave them below and I’ll respond to each one.