Q: I don’t know what to do anymore, sis. My family is a mess. It seems like we all hate each other. My parents fight about everything, my brother has problems, and my mom puts me down in every way possible. I can’t even say hi to them anymore—it’s that bad. I’m sick of just locking myself in my room and crying, but I feel like that’s all I have to choose from.

Man, family can be so hard! Believe me, I’ve hurled this question at God more than once: Remind me, why did you think ‘family’ was a good idea?! (I’m so glad God can handle our questions and doubts!) And I’m sure my family has asked God the same thing about me. 🙂

That question (Why did God make family?) actually led me to write a book called Family: How to Love Yours (and Help Them Like You Back). I’m no stranger to family difficulty. I share more of my story in the book than I have space for here, but I’ve walked through abandonment, blending, and all the plain ‘ol sin that marks every family. As I wrote the book, I was blown away once again at the way God used all of it for His glory and my good, true to this promise in Romans 8:28-29:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son.

The very last part of that verse holds the key to letting God create beauty in the messiness of family. His secret plan for His kids is that we become more like Jesus—through our circumstances, not just despite them. So how do we do that? Well, not to make this a book-fomercial (grin), but that’s exactly what Family is all about: how to love your family when they’re super unlovable; how to be patient when they drive you crazy; how to forgive them when they’ve hurt you deeply; and how to make the most of today, because you don’t know how many “todays” you’ll get.

I hope you’ll get a copy of the book so we can take that journey together (if you can’t afford one, send me an email, and I’d be happy to give you one as my free gift to you). In the meantime, here are a few thoughts to help you make it through today:

  • Your parents are people too. Which means they have their own set of disappointments, fears, hopes, goals, and insecurities. They’re not perfect. (Big surprise, right?) But neither are you. We all need God’s grace, and you’re in a perfect position to extend that grace to the people you live with.
  • God wants to come close when we’re at the end of ourselves, when our hearts feel like they’ve been shattered into a thousand, tiny pieces. (Psalm 34 is a beautiful chapter about this. Will you read it today?)
  • While your relationship with your family is on the rocks, you can let your relationship with your God be at its best ever.
  • You can’t change people. But you can do your best to be lovable and to show them Christ’s love. Here’s my favorite passage on the subject:

Live in harmony with each other….Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.  Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. (Romans 12:16-21)

When people’s lives please the LORD, even their enemies are at peace with them. (Proverbs 16:7)

Hang in there, sis. I honestly don’t mean to sound trite, but often family life does get better as you get older. (I guess we all get older and wiser… even our parents!) I didn’t have a great relationship with some of my family members until I moved out. That’s not to say you should give up hope now, of course. Just be encouraged that you never know when things will get easier.

Love,