It’s the season when Christmas cards start arriving daily. Most look for the best pictures that project the right image of the family. For obvious reasons we choose that one photo that brings us closest to at least looking like that perfect family. The one from the sunny beach, or in front of the lighted tree, or that recent exotic trip to some distant place far from home.
When I was a child I assumed most of my friends were from perfect homes. As the youngest of five, our single mom worked hard to keep us afloat. Yet as children we were aware of our struggles. Yet we went into the world each day hoping no one noticed the fear just underneath the smiles. Not that we weren’t happy, we were! We just knew we would never be normal, much less perfect.
Years later we’ve just about raised two children, I’ve come to understand that the biggest lie facing the American family is that of the perfect home. Or the perfect marriage. Or the perfect children. Or the perfect job. Or the perfect life. All too often unhappiness is driven by the upsetting reality that we’ve ended up in a family that is less than what our dreams said it would be.
While it can be a matter of perspective, it’s more about understanding what is real and what is not. My family? Real. Our teen was in rehab at sixteen. Our son watched her addictions almost destroy everything that appeared to be his foundation. My husband lost a six figure training contract after 9/11 and we found ourselves broke with two small children. We’ve been there and a few places in between.
I’ve lived in North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and now Louisiana. Not once have I run across a family that that has been without struggle, hardship, and often significant heart ache.
The problem is not my family or yours. The problem is the lie that lingers darkly over my home and yours. The movies, the songs, the constant unfair comparisons. The lies. “You can’t possibly be happy… look at your family!” Often that voice comes straight from the pit of hell.
Our imperfect world lands us in imperfect homes. With imperfect people. Thank God we can accept the fact that perfection is a devious myth and our families are actually pretty normal. Happy even. Growing? Yes. Constantly having to work out the kinks while facing reality together. Yet comfortable in our imperfections as we no longer live in comparison with something that was never real to begin with.
Go ahead, say cheese! Send the cards. Embrace the season with joy. Enjoy your imperfect family that lives in your imperfect home. And don’t forget to get on your knees that thank God that only He is perfect.
Perfect families. Beware of the lies! Today’s pick of the day.