Journal Entry 072210: Being one of us

Maintaining family ties can be a lot of trouble. We might have to drive eight hours across the central New Mexico wilderness just to spend an afternoon with family who flew across the country to spend the same afternoon with us. We might spend hard-earned money on trivial things like matching T-shirts because we want to be one-of-us.

We do it because we love each other, but more than that, we do it because we love the bigger idea of family. We want our kids to live in a world larger than our own small household. We want them to feel a part of the big family and know they are not alone in the world. Going to a lot of trouble to keep a big family together is important. And it is worth it.

We go to the trouble to be with each other because being one-of-us is more important than personal dislikes or old offenses or personality differences. We might have to temporarily suspend old grudges, overlook recent transgressions, and accept ongoing crazy behavior. Some of us introverted types have to set aside our discomfort and mingle with distant family we barely know. Some of the more extroverted types look forward to a bigger family stage.

July 17 is a big day for family in my life because the reading assignment from my Daily Bible comes from Isaiah 51: “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.”

I like this notion of “the rock from which you were cut.” Isaiah went on to point out Abraham and Sarah, so we know he was referring to people, ancestors, predecessors, parents and grandparents, when he wrote about “the rock.” He reminded those of us who seek the Lord to draw strength from our family.

A few years ago when I helped my grandmother write her autobiography and family history, I was reminded how many Baptist preachers and deacons and church officers and women’s leaders are in my tribe. There is a rich vein of grace and strength that runs through my DNA, and I feel the blessing that comes with that. It is my provenance. I am part of a big story that extends for generations. Isaiah 51 also reminds me that I am part of the quarry and it is my duty and obligation to be faithful and strong for those coming after me.

And when I am with my inlaws I recognize the deep quarry from which my wife Cyndi came. I can see the veins of strength and creativity and adventure and we-can-do-that-ourselves running through her family, the very same characteristics that caused me to fall in love with her over 30 years ago.

One thing about quarries - they are seldom from homogeneous rock. There are always variations and fractures. Blocks of stone cut from the same quarry are never absolutely identical. They are all a little different.

And so it is with a family quarry. We are not a homogeneous band. We may be alike, but we are also different, with many variations and shades and fractures. And we unwittingly pass along some variations or impurities we wish would remain hidden, and we propagate fractures we wish would heal.

Whenever any of us have a role as leader or teacher we have an obligation to those in our care, in our circle of influence. But most of those relationships are voluntary, so the pressure is less. They can walk away. Family is different. Babies are stuck with the family they fall into. It is up to us to rise to the occasion, to be solid rocks.

And there is more, from Isaiah 58: “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

Simply being a strong building stone hewn from a deep quarry isn’t the whole assignment for a family man. We are also rebuilders and restorers. We have a duty and obligation to understand the age-old foundations of faith and trust and acceptance and forgiveness and grace, and raise them up. As one-of-us it is our responsibility to be a Repairer of Broken Walls.

As it turns out, I don’t mind the trouble of family maintenance. In fact, I like it. I want to be part of a big and deep quarry. I want to live my life in a world that is bigger than my own opinions. I want to be one of us.


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32


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