Joy in the Imperfect Family

Letting go of what you think family should be allows us to truly love

Did you or your parents strive to make the perfect family? Ridiculous as it sounds, I relate to the initial desire. I have found much more joy in stumbling across imperfection. 

Another crazy family selfie. I really need to get a selfie stick.

Another imperfect family selfie. I really need to get a selfie stick.

I’m in Minnesota right now. We celebrated with Wendy’s side of the family last night (pictured above). My sisters come in tonight, and tomorrow we’ll be celebrating my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary with even more relatives.

Just look at this picture. You don’t know them all, but I do, and I can stare into their faces for hours. I hesitate to even mention “imperfections,” but I need you to know that they exist. Surprise, right? Like you, I’d rather post happy pictures and talk about all the awesome stories, coming dangerously close to that initial desire for perfection.

It’s easy to do because there are plenty of awesome stories:

  • My daughter, Alissa, and her half-sister came to the party. They have a grown quite a relationship in their older years.
  • My son-in-law from Syria got to meet his wife’s side of the family. No, just half of them! The others are coming tonight.
  • My beautiful niece who was raised by my sister-in-law — who died early 2014 — came to the party and had a blast. God, I so want her to overcome the trials in her life!
  • My mother-in-law is in remission of cancer, but she has a blood clot that needs operation soon. She has a beautiful story of recovery, but it has taken a toll on her body. We are all praying for the best!
  • The joy around the campfire was so, so…youthful. My kids were running all over, but the teens were the best. One showed off quite a beautiful young lady girlfriend to the family, and we all fell in love with her.

But I suppose I could get stuck on the negative. It is threaded throughout the good. There are a few in our family who find this all a bit nauseating — the smiles, the love, the fun times, the joy — as if we’re faking it. We have histories and stories that we’re ashamed of, too. Most of us would rather not go there.

Which do you relate to in your family? Do you focus on the good or the bad? If it is the latter, I sure hope you reconsider. I bet your family — no matter how awful your upbringing has been — has beauty in it.

You’re missing out of a beautiful family. And they are missing out on you.

I love Wendy’s siblings, their spouses, their children, her mother and entire family, etc. This is the one point I want to make: if you can love others despite the dysfunction, you will discover the true value of family.

Be the best person you can be — a loving parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, sibling, child, etc., etc. — wherever you fit into your family. But let go of perfection. Expecting it or attempting to attain it are both flawed desires. That ideal is not only impossible, it really isn’t family.