I often stare up at the maple trees outside my kitchen window and wonder how many years they’ve been surviving the storms and ice and, of course, how much sap I could collect if I ever get around to tapping them. My eyes get lost in the fiery banners that grace those branches this time of year. All the while, it’s the unassuming roots beneath that have chiseled through soil and rock, connecting the tree to the very nutrients and water it needs to live and thrive.
Our families are not much different. We want something beautiful for our families, maybe something better than what we grew up with. For all our ideals, we don’t actually know until we wake up a wife or a mom what we’ll actually be like in those shoes. We may find ourselves fumbling for advice, hoping and praying we crack the code on thriving family life. Books, resources and hacks galore – not to mention the advice of friends – offer answers to our many questions. All the while, the most transformative answers lie beneath our feet, rooted in the reality and character of Christ. Without this anchor, discouragement quickly hampers our good-intentioned efforts and the big picture gets lost in the shuffle.
That’s why we’re taking time today to explore what the reality of Christ means for these beautiful, messy relationships right here in our homes.
Click here to print out your free companion guide for this article.
You may have heard the phrase, “Come as you are.” We may picture ourselves lost, blind and dirty coming to Jesus for the first time, but friends, we never outgrow this truth. Somehow, Christ’s acceptance gets diluted as we learn all the “right” things to do and “bad” things to avoid. We know better now. Now, we’ve got to get our stuff together, at least have something to show for all our knowledge. Show that we really mean it. All the while, He’s saying, “What are you waiting for? I’ve cancelled your debt and I call you my own. Here, let me love you and help you.”
In Him, I am forgiven.
Some of my biggest failures as a wife and mom were because I was carrying shame and guilt and did not know how to receive grace for myself. Under the weight of shame, my carnal heart deflects the shame I feel onto others. I project my “badness” onto my immature children. They are looking to me to know what Jesus is like. One of the most beautiful ways I can do that is to be willing to confess my sin and receive the mercy and grace that goes far beyond pardon. In this exchange, I am changed from the inside out.
In Him, my heart finds safety.
Psalms 18:2 says, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
It’s as though David is using every word he possibly can to emphatically say: God is my safe place.
If we’re going to picture the Father, let’s settle it once for all. His open arms await us. His love for us will never, ever run out. The more rooted we become in His unshakable love for us, the more courage we’ll find to love others without fear. Rejection may hurt, but in His love, it cannot define us.
We have all faced heartache and our homes are no exception to that. Hasty words, misunderstandings, and hurtful actions can all impact us deeply, especially when coming from those we consider closest to us. (If you are facing abuse, adultery or addition, be encouraged here, but please, please seek professional help as well.) We have a God who is fully sympathetic to our humanity and our pain (Hebrews 4:14-16). He sees it all and doesn’t discount our sorrow, big or small. We need to know this down deep. As we keep our hearts open to the One who heals the brokenhearted (Psalms 147:3), His love empowers us to reject the lies that seek to lock up our hearts from the deep connection we truly desire. As He restores our soul (Psalms 23:3), we are refreshed to love well and lead others to the Healer every chance we get.
In Him, my eyes are opened.
My eyes are opened to the eternal weight of these earthly relationships. God longs to open our eyes to the history we make every time we say “yes” to love. The investments we make in our hearts and into the people we love go far beyond our ability to comprehend. These small decisions, that gentle response, and that candid apology is what world change is made of.
As we grow in the Father’s perspective, more and more we’ll behold our family as who God created them to be. God’s got a knack for seeing through disfunction into the greatness of our unique expression as His image bearers. His eyes show us how to see the treasure in each other and relate in such a way that we help draw it out.
I’ll confess that I’ve seen a part of myself that wants to be a good mom or a good wife, because I want to feel good about myself. If I can (you fill in the blank), then I’ll feel good about how I’m doing in those areas or relationships. The work of Jesus has freed us from the need to measure up. I don’t strive in my relationships to be good enough. Jesus has settled my debt and His spotless history has become mine.
The heart of Jesus frees up my heart to love for the sake of love. He didn’t leave us stranded when He summed up all the commandments into loving God and loving our neighbor. Romans 5:5 says the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. His love fuels our mission to love, because abiding in Him empowers us to love beyond our own capacity, and into His.
As we close, I’ll leave you with this meditation. You can print it out along with scripture and journal prompts with this article’s companion guide.
Because I’m forgiven, I can forgive.
Because I am His, healing is mine for the places in my heart that feel tender.
Because I am loved, I can love the unlovable.
Because I am accepted, I can accept the people I love, even if I don’t agree with all their decisions.
Because I am safe, I can refuse fear and go first.
Because God is good, I can trust that He is working in my home.