Flawed Families 101
Twins are fascinating, aren’t they? When I was in middle school, there were twin girls in my grade. They looked and acted and sounded so much alike, and they had great fun playing practical jokes on students and teachers alike.
Long ago and far away, there was a guy named Isaac, and his wife, Rebekah who had twin boys. I can imagine the boys, when they were just tykes, running around the tents, harassing the sheep, and ducking to hide behind Dad’s robes when they irritated the wrong cousins. Maybe Jacob and Esau tried to fool people like those girls in my class, but I hardly think they would’ve been successful. The Bible tells us they didn’t look that much alike, which led to Mom taking a hand when Jacob tried to fool his father decades later. And that’s where our Flawed Family 101 story begins.
Isaac and Rebekah’s little tribe was the poster family for flawed families back in the day. You see, Isaac and Rebekah loved their boys, but Isaac preferred Esau’s company and Rebekah preferred Jacob’s. In other words, the parents each had their favorite child. As parents, we know that’s a recipe for Flawed Family Stew, right?
My two daughters tease each other sometimes that they are Mom’s favorite. It’s all in good fun, but what if it were true? They would continually spar with each other over my affection. Carried into adulthood, that kind of competition can lead to permanent family divisions. And that is exactly what happened with the Isaac and Rebekah Show.
Rebekah helped Jacob–her favorite son–put one over on Isaac and Esau, and that sparked a vicious feud between the two brothers which lasted decades. Jacob even had to skedaddle miles and miles away to avoid being murdered by his brother. They were estranged through all the years they were marrying and having children, and didn’t come back together until both of them had grandchildren. And if you take a close look at the Middle East region today, you see shards of that feud littering the desert floor.
Such wasted time, we say! How could brothers do that to each other? How could Isaac and Rebekah not see how their sinful preferences of one son over another damaged, almost beyond repair, the precious gift of family given to them by God Himself.
We ask those questions of Isaac and his family, but perhaps we should drill down on our own family relationships. After all, that’s what the stories in God’s Word are there for, to help us see ourselves.
How are we guilty of perverting the precious gift of family?
What about those hard relationships we go out of our way to avoid nurturing, because it’s just too difficult. The hot disagreements, the divergence of beliefs, the coddling of past hurts and grudges. And the list goes on. Here’s the thing: that list is rooted in our pride.
Scripture teaches us that God values relationships. He gave the human family the ability to connect on a level deeper than skin. And if we do go deeper than skin, we often find we have more in common with our family members–even those family members–than what divides us.
Going deeper than skin is hard work, though. But if we want to get to the place where God dwells, we must put in the blood, sweat, and tears to nurture our family relationships–even the most difficult ones. Even the ones we swore off years ago as completely hopeless and irreparable. Those words don’t exist where God dwells.
Using God’s Word to pray for our family relationships is another gift He has given us. Perhaps if Jacob and Esau had let go of their pride a bit, and prayed for each other, centuries of rivalry and hatred wouldn’t have happened.
Perhaps if we humbled ourselves before that sister, cousin, parent, or child who has hurt or maligned us in some way (or the other way around), and asked God to bless that person, we’d find new space in our hearts to welcome that relationship back home.
And then, God’s grin will beam all the way from heaven into our hearts.