So often we feel our families have to provide everything we need, our children need, our spouses need, when God has placed us in a larger global family of faith. Read on as Amanda Anderson introduces us to our need for extended family.
The Bigger Family Picture
By Amanda Anderson
"Mom, would it be okay if I wanted to talk to a therapist?" my 13-year-old daughter asked me recently.
Internally, I said "Why? What's wrong? Have I missed something?" But out loud, I said, "Of course it would be." I couldn't resist asking, "Is there something you need to talk to someone about?"
"No. I was just wondering. Like, would it make you sad if I needed to talk to someone other than you?"
Oh, my deep-thinking girl. What a good question to pose to the heart of a mother. Is it okay when our children recognize that we don't have all that they need? It should be. I pray that in any struggle my girls encounter, God will equip me to be a wise and empathetic counselor. But I also know that I am not - nor was I ever intended to be - their only source of these good things. God's vision of family is much, much broader.
Every member of the family of God will at some point need someone outside their nuclear family to meet their emotional, relational and spiritual needs. I think of the first time I shared at a 12-step meeting for women who desire to have healthier, more loving relationships (Codependents Anonymous). I had recently lost a dear friendship in a spectacular blow-up, and I was reeling. When the meeting was over, literally a line of precious sisters formed to offer me understanding and hope.
No matter what challenge we face in life, in the global community of believers, God will always provide people to relate to and support, if we have the courage to seek them.
Luke chapter 1 is my favorite Scripture to illustrate this truth. When the virgin Mary learned from an angel that she was to give birth to the Savior of the world, she had reason to feel alone. But God provided a confidant in her cousin Elizabeth, who was also facing an angelically-announced, gossip-provoking, miraculous pregnancy.
The Bible says that Mary "got ready and hurried" to her cousin's house, where Elizabeth exclaimed, "Blessed is she who believes that God's promises to her will be fulfilled."
What most intrigues me about this passage of Scripture, is that it doesn't record teenage Mary going to her parents for support. We aren't told why and there's no suggestion of conflict between Mary and her family from this omission. But we can see that Mary left home to get what she needed at that moment.
Needing the fresh perspective and specific knowledge of people outside our nuclear family does not imply failure on the part of our parents or siblings. Rather, it reveals God's big-picture plan to reach the world by showing how well the people of God love each other. It helps free us from needing to create a "perfect" family, and to release our family members from having to be everything we need.
So no, my sweet girl. It will not make me sad if you seek wise counsel apart from me. Instead, it will give me joy to see you reap the benefits, as your mama has, of being loved by God through his big, beautiful family.
Amanda Anderson is an author, Bible teacher, retreat speaker, and blogger. Her ministry, Heart in Training (www.heartintraining.com), teaches women and men to live creatively, freely, intentionally, and to the glory of God. Her first book, All My Friends Have Issues: Risking Real Relationships with Real Women, is due out in 2019 with Thomas Nelson. Connect on Instagram @amandaanderson777.