Family. When you hear that word, what kind of emotions do you immediately jump to? Excitement? Frustration? Pride? Disappointment? Love? Loyalty?
Okay, now think of that word again and what kind of memories instantly come to mind. Lots of laughter? Lots of fighting? Both? Awkward conversations? Hilarious conversations? Both again, possibly?
No matter what kind of family God has placed you in here on this earth, there will always be mountains and valleys. In some families, there are more of some than others, but for the most part, I would say that every family experiences its fair share of rollercoaster rides.
Now, imagine taking one of these crazy, loud, messed up, loving, and caring families and combining it to another family that is almost identical in how crazy, loud, messy, loving, and caring it is. They have their similarities, but also their differences.
This was something that I am getting to experience firsthand in my life right now. As my family and my fiancé’s family are beginning to join in festivities, it has been amusing to watch the interactions! All the previous emotions play a factor in conversations during these family functions. It is wildly evident that each family brings their own character and preferences. Points of view differ, experiences vary, and yet, these two families have put many of their personal preferences aside to get to know and learn more about one another. They have even begun to make a point of getting together to do things with one another, even without Geoff and me present!
This past weekend, my best childhood friend, Rachel, threw me a BEAUTIFUL bridal shower. I was so honored and humbled to see Geoff’s family members travel to my childhood home to attend and it made me beam with joy when I saw how lovingly and welcoming my family embraced them. It was really fun watching not only the women at the shower enjoying their time conversing with one another, but also the guys (even my dog Pluto) hanging out talking and laughing before they headed out to a brewery together.
Overall, I would say that it’s a neat experience watching so many of the most important people in your life getting along, sharing thoughts, listening, laughing, enjoying one another’s company while getting to know each another better. I loved every second of being home this past weekend and getting to catch up with family and friends, but what I liked doing even more was just observing.
Sometimes, I think that’s how God may feel when He looks at us. I would like to think that there are times where He can sit back, look at His people and love the way they are interacting and supporting one another.
When I look at our church, Shepherd of the Hills, there is going to be an enormous joining together of families. These families consist of multiple ages, races, preferences and experiences, yet, they all worship the same God. It is exciting yet terrifying all at the same time. Yes, we are one church body, we are one in the body of Christ, but this congregation will truly be ONE as we move together into ONE worship space and appropriately so, as we worship ONE God.
As members of this great family called Shepherd of the Hills, and even members of the Church at large, we have some choices to make. What kind of people are we going to be in situations that are uncomfortable for us or may be different than what we are used to? How are we going to act when our own personal visions do not become the reality? How are we going to treat and speak to fellow members who we may not see eye to eye with?
Speaking about Shepherd of the Hills, nothing about this upcoming building project is going to be easy. Believe me, I’m sure you could ask Pastor and he would tell you that nothing about it up to this point has been a walk in the park! But God calls us to “step out of that boat!”. And this relates to everyone. He calls us to serve, give, love, commit, and accept, to build up and not tear down, to LISTEN, and to lead by example. God has called us to be ONE in Him. John 12:5 “so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
Just like families joining for holidays and celebrations, there will inevitably be chaos, disagreements, and irritations, but there will also be great joy, appreciation, and bonds made that will last even into Eternity. So don’t lose focus of where God has placed you at this time in your life. You may have many different “families” in which you belong; I know that I do. Your immediate family is important. Love them, care for them, cherish the time you have together, even the difficult times. Your church family is important. Worship together. Pray together. Eat together! Forgive each other and build one another up. Accept and embrace with open arms.
So, next time someone brings up the word, “family”, I hope that it not only reminds you of the good times you have had with your immediate family, but I hope it also makes you think of the ways in which you are interacting with and loving the Family God has placed you in at this point of your life.
I Corinthians 12:13-14 “ For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.”
I Corinthians 12:25 “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.”
“In the end, we are all a bunch of fruit.” – Gus Portokalos (father of the bride) My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Emily came from San Diego, California and joined the Shepherd of the Hills staff in 2017. She graduated with her undergraduate degree and DPM certification in music from Concordia University, Irvine and is currently working on her masters degree in choral conducting at Concordia University, Wisconsin.