“Them”…

As I finished reading  “When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy, last night,  I came across some more things that I would like to share.  The parts I’ve underlined are what really stuck out to me.   I know this is kind of long, but please, take the time and read it! 

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Them

There are four people on the planet earth who can irritate me quicker than any others.  I have tremendous patience, boundless grace, and bottomless mercy for seemingly everyone but these four people

I really do desire to be an example of Jesus to everyone I meet.  I want people to walk away after spending time with me thinking, That must be what Jesus acts like. There are moments when I really think I’m getting there, then…I get around one of them.

Each of us has our “them.”  Maybe you don’t have four; maybe you have two, or maybe you have twenty.  But we all have them.  A good formula for finding the “them” in your life is to look for all those who share the same last name with you, always get a slice of your birthday cake, and have an exact replica of your nose stuck on their funny-looking faces.  “Them” in your life just as in mine, are familiar.  Awfully familiar!  You know everything from the bad jokes they always try to crack to their personal body fragrance.

Really, the only requirement for a “them” in our lives is familiarity. Or, if familiarity is too vague a word, how about this one: family?  Yes, it’s true!  Everyone else in the world may be bamboozled into thinking we are perfect angels, but our family will always know the truth.

If you were to take a peek inside the windows of my home while I was growing up, you would have wonderful blackmail material on me now.  I was a “Christian,” but strangely, you wouldn’t have ever confused me with St. Francis of Assisi.  I was anything but Christlike as I roamed the hallways of my home.

In a matter of three seconds I could scream, “What are you doing?  This is my room, you big Stink!  Get outta here!  Hey! Turn it back! I was watching the game!  Meatloaf for dinner?  I hate meatloaf!”  We for some reason feel very comfortable venting all of our pent-up frustrations on those who make the mistake of being related to us.

We demand that our family be perfect, and we don’t allow room for error.  Let me make a case in point.  If one of you accidentally stepped on my big toe – and I mean you really smooshed it – my response to you as compared to the way I would respond to my brother, if he did it, is strangely different.

To you I would gasp, “That’s all right!”  And even if my face was fire-red and my cheeks were bloated from containing my yelp, I would say, “Those things happen!  I’ll survive!”

You see, to you I would offer grace.  I would excuse your mistake.  Now, my brother, on the other hand…he should know better than to smoosh the big toe of his older brother.  My response to him would be a little more animated.

“Hey!” I would scream.  “What do you think you’re doing?  Watch where you’re walking!”  Then, as is appropriate for all good and healthy brotherly encounters, I would give him a hard shove.

It’s difficult for us to extend grace to the “them” in our lives.  We often expect them to live at a higher standard of perfection than anyone else on the planet.

But it doesn’t stop here.  Not only do those closest to us get under our skin and irritate us, but they can also wound us in a way no one else can.

If you came up to me and said, “Eric, you stink, you’re ugly, and I hate you!”  I would probably step back, blink a couple of times, and then say, “Well, ah, thanks for being so blunt!”  I would go home and tell Leslie about what you said and probably even feel rejected as I recalled the episode.  Then Leslie would tenderly wrap her arm around my shoulder and say, “Eric, that’s ridiculous!  They are probably on drugs or something.”

Your words might sting for a little while and might cause me to put on an extra puddle of cologne before I head out into public, but I would get over your words.  Why?  Because you’re not my family!

If my dad came up to me and said, “Eric, you stink, you’re ugly, and I hate you!”  I would be absolutely devastated.  Any number of comforting words from Leslie wouldn’t be able to bandage up the wound that my dad’s words would make in my heart and mind.  Your words would hurt, but my dad’s words would cripple.  Because yours would be just an opinion; my dad’s are my “definition of reality.”

Our generation is lying crippled on the side of life’s road because of the words of those most “familiar” with us.  There are many of you reading this book who think of yourselves as stupid because those who knew you best when growing up always said you were “stupid.”  Many of you are convinced that you are fat.  Why?  Because your family always told you that you were “fat”.  Then there are those of you who, in your mind, are ugly simply because the word “ugly” has been used by your little brother to describe your face since you were in kindergarten.  It is family who defines our reality.  Even if they are lying, we can’t help but believe family – because if anyone should know, it’s them!

 It’s no wonder many of us abandon the family ship as soon as we get the chance.  We want to escape the irritants, the bosses, the nitpickers, the know-it-alls.  We head out into this great big world in search of a different family.  You see, we all desire to belong.  God designed us for companionship and for teammates.  We just don’t do well alone.  Some of us try to find it in friends, some of us look for it in sports, and some of us even attempt to find it in our shaggy dog named Waldo.  But when we run from “them” and try and patch up our need with “our choice” of fill-ins instead of God’s choice, we will never cover the ache.  We need family!  We need our “them”!  And not just as the solution to loneliness, but as the secret ingredient to successful romance. 

When we condition ourselves to run away and disown those who are most familiar with us, we’re preparing ourselves for a disastrous future.  Our lives consist of relationships.  God designed us for family.  Intimate family relationships are among the most difficult things we must deal with as humans, because closeness leads to the exposure of who we really are, inside and outside.  We young people have a very short period in our life that God seems to give us for practice.

The Denver Broncos have a preseason in which they hone their football skills, study the plays, and scrimmage.  In the same way, we all have our premarriage season in which we need to hone our family skills, study the relationships playbook, and to learn how to be like Christ to the “them” in our life.

Family isn’t just in our past; it’s very much in our future, too.  And I guarantee you that if you train yourself to model Christ now to those most familiar and close, you will be superb at it when you get married.

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