November is one of my favorite times to be on Facebook. All throughout the month, people post their “thankfuls” each day. Because I like to be slightly rebellious about some times (while being a joiner at other times), I do not participate in most things that I am told to do on Facebook. I do not tell the color of my bra even though I am very much in favor of breast cancer awareness initiatives. And I do not post daily thankfuls during November.
This morning, though, I awoke with a mind full of what I would say if I were to post the things that I am thankful for each day, and essentially this blog post started to write itself. These are the types of “racing mind” moments for which this blog was created. The verbal or written vomit of these ideas flowing from my head will then clear the mind so that it can do the tasks of the day.
I am thankful for my family bush.
While others still have a traditional family tree, many of us now have a family bush instead. The painful world in which we live has made the family bush more common. What I mean by this is that, instead of the traditional branches that connect neatly together from one family line into the next, we now see bundles of family lines intersecting due to death, divorce, remarriage, and single parenting. While there is pain involved in this, there is also redemption. My husband (a preacher-man) recently preached a sermon about why God hates divorce. One of the reasons that God hates divorce is that it breaks the image of marriage. God intended marriage for good; divorce breaks covenant not only between the two involved but also with God Himself. But my huz is quick to point out that God realizes that, in our human state, divorce will happen because of sin in our world. When that happens, God has a plan of redemption.
As much as family bushes represent the pain that has occurred in the lives of those who have them, they can also be seen as a symbol of the redemption that can, or possibly has, taken place in those lives. This is so true in my own family bush! When one would look at my entire family bush, there is a lot of redemption to be seen. I am the oldest of eight “kids,” but there are two other “oldests” (we all happen to be girls too!) in my bush because they are the oldest child in their nuclear family. My brother Marc and I were born to Paul and Von before their divorce. Paul married Maggie, and they have three children who are my half-siblings. Von married Rick. Von passed away. Rick married Janet who had been married previously and had three children who are my step-siblings. The bush grows when we start adding the aunts, uncles, and grandparents who are all included because of these life interruptions. I am blessed by each person who is a part of this bush. They enrich my life and have played a part in who I am today.
There is no doubt in my mind that God did not intend for there to be divorce or even death as part of our original experience. But that design was interrupted by the very first people who did not want God’s design for their lives. Once they had disobeyed and saw how hard life was outside of God’s design, they yearned for something more. Generations later, God interrupted that interruption with His own plan again – Jesus. Realizing that humans were not capable of bringing about redemption by any act of their own, God provided for redemption by sending His son into the world to die as the payment for our sins, to conquer death and raise from the death, and to ascend to heaven to be once again with His Father. Because of God’s intentional redesign of His plan, we now have the ability to live in a redeemed state.
In my younger years, I saw my family bush as a negative image because it represented the brokenness of what had been a family tree. For years, I focused on the negative impact that these events have in my life. While that is a natural thing, I think that I missed out on God’s blessings for my mind in realizing that He has redeemed the situation. The family bush does not have to be a negative image; it can be a positive image of the redemptive power of what God has done and will do through this situation.