Family Fellowship (Not of the Rings)

Family Focus: Family Blog Post #8 Family Fellowship

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”  J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

When old Bilbo stated this to his extended family members at his eleventy first birthday party, most people were flummoxed, some were offended. What he said, however, could certainly be said my many of us – if we spoke truthfully about our extended families. Some of our extended family members are known by us only slightly. We see them rarely, and when we do, it is at large gatherings where in-depth conversations are the exception as mostly we work our way at talking to as many people as possible… looking for quantity, not quality. At the end of family gatherings we really don’t really know any more that we knew before about their lives… except for the newest tidbits of change. These people are blood, but for the most part, they are strangers. As Bilbo pointed out, there were folks in his extended family that he, if he had the time, would like to get to know better. One the other hand, he also bluntly stated that some of his family members were distasteful and he really did not like them, but treated them as if he did. They did not deserve to be treated nicely because they were not good people; but since they were blood, he put those feelings aside and treated them positively. Could not most of us say the same about folks in our extended families? If we were honest and transparent, we probably could; but we are not honest… at least we are not transparent. We keep those things to ourselves and only share them in secret days after the event with our closest relatives. We don’t want to cause a stir. We don’t want to foment a rift in the placid family sea.

Bilbo, however, didn’t care anymore. He was leaving and did not expect to be seeing or talking to any of them ever again. Therefore, he could finally be transparent and say what he really felt. He could hit and run and not face the fallout of his honesty. I get that. I suggest a different approach, however. I suggest not talking in secret to others in the shadows about rogue family members. I suggest honestly and transparently – and without a judgmental attitude, talking directly to the rogue and getting to know them and their story. I suggest spending time listening to their narrative and finding the good in them – which there will be – and sharing that with the family. So many of us try to protect the reputation of the family as a whole and do so to the harm of some of the individuals therein. Remember families do not suffer… people do. Families do not cry… individuals do. Learn of them. Love them right where they are. Forgive them if necessary, and ignore what the world thinks.

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For His glory,


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