Christmas is for broken families, too.

December 23, 2013

It’ll be Ian’s first Christmas.  When I look at him, I understand a little more of the cost of Jesus’ incarnation.  Mostly because I’ve never spent so much time with an infant before.  My omnipotent God condescended to become someone’s completely helpless and needy, kissable baby.  He bowed His head and came.  Not just as a man.  Not just as a grown, fully competent man of trade, though that would have been humiliating enough for the Son who simply spoke the universe into existence.  But He came as a baby who had to nurse at the breast of a fumbling first time mom.  And I can’t wrap my mind around it.  The nearness of it.

But other thoughts come knocking this Christmas, too.  They aren’t completely unrelated.

In this season at least — and I don’t know, maybe for the rest of his life — Ian won’t know the fullness of my side of the family.  At least not all at once.  He can’t pick up on everything yet of course, but he’ll experience it by the things he doesn’t experience.  The loved ones he doesn’t get to interact with as much, his family he won’t grow to know as well, just because it’s harder to foster relationships with everyone when each fractured piece has to be cherished separately.  And because of our limited nature, some pieces will be neglected.  Some loved ones will be strangers to him.  And I grieve over this.  Sometimes bitterly.  My son won’t know the fullness and richness that is my side of the family.  At least not as continuously and intimately as I’d known it in my childhood.  (I know this is extremely common.  I know it could be worse.  But common never eases the pain, does it?)  This is not my first fractured Christmas.  It hurt as a daughter.  It hurt as a wife.  But ah — it hurts in a different way as a mother.  I don’t mean Christmas holds no joy.  Not at all.  But it’s a joy mingled with pain.  And I think that’s okay — at least when I consider Christmas in its original glory and un-glory.  Stripped down to a manger, but one containing no one less than the Lamb of God.

So last night before bed, I jotted everything I wanted to remember and tell myself as long as this season of brokenness lasts.  The tone may come across strong.  I really needed “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” kind of language last night.  Nothing spineless would do against “Apollyon” and Giant Despair.  So in raw form, and in the order they came to mind:

Don’t become bitter.  Who are you to hold a charge against anyone?  You are no better.  The gospel says you are no better.

Adjust your expectations.  They are not Jesus.  You are not Jesus.  That’s why He came.  We all fall short.

Don’t become bitter.  This is worth repeating twice.


Our earthly families aren’t the end-all be-all.  They point to a greater, more eternal reality.

God is sovereign.  You weren’t meant for the next home over. He placed you in your family with precision.  Don’t waste it.

Your family doesn’t cause you to sin.  They can tempt you to sin, but sin is always of personal volition.

May it never be that you echo Adam and accuse God with, “…the woman You gave me” — or rather, “the family You gave me.”

Your family is not beyond hope.  That’s why Christmas happened.  Christmas didn’t come for those who are whole — or who look whole or think they are whole.  It came for the diseased and broken.

We don’t celebrate Christmas because our family is together and happy.  We don’t celebrate Christmas for any other earthly reason than this: Jesus entered our world to rescue us from the power and penalty and pervasiveness of sin.

The goal is God’s glory.  Don’t idolize the image of a perfect family.  Is a stable family a blessing?  Yes.  But do not bow to it.

All families are broken in some way — at least on this side of eternity.  You cannot escape heartache or grief or brokenness in any relationship, even as a hermit.  Where memories might cease to assault you, the absence of relationship will takes its place.  Only your relationship with God is safe — and really, only on His part, not yours.  Thank God He is faithful and able to make us faithful to the end.

It’s better to be broken than hardened.  It’s better to be broken than hardened.  It’s better to be broken than hardened.

Don’t forget your church family.  Ask for prayer.  Embrace their encouragement and exhortation.  Love them well.  Remember they’re broken people being sanctified, too.

Love your family, period.  Remember the costly manner in which Jesus laid down His life and by His grace, do the same.  But remember this key difference between you and Jesus in this: He was better than than those for whom He laid down His life.  You are not.

No matter how wearying and how long the labor, or whatever the results or lack thereof, you are called to be a peacemaker.  Peacemaking is dirty work, and you are completely unqualified except in Christ.  Don’t grow weary of doing good.  The labor is ours, the fruit is God’s to give.

Look brokenness in the face.  Don’t pretend it away.  And then tell brokenness to look Jesus in the face.  See who wins.


3 Responses to “Christmas is for broken families, too.”

  1. the old roommate Says:

    ❤ I don't know why I didn't see this post until now. Miss you, friend. ❤

    • tia Says:

      love you! & i didn’t post to fb or anywhere else like i usually do. this one was a little more private but not private enough to hide. :]

  2. the old roommate Says:


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