A man we know has two adult children, a son and a daughter. His
son and daughter are quite different and, since childhood, they
have never been able to get along. The daughter recently told her
father that if he continued to have contact with her brother, she
and his granddaughter would no longer speak to him.
We shook our heads as the man related the pain of being caught
between his son and daughter, though we know this kind of thing
happens far too often. How can people within the same family
inflict so much pain on each other? Are we guilty of causing God
the same kind of pain when we insist we must be the "beloved" ones
and God must favor us above his other children - the ones we don't
Recently, while reading the scripture story of Jacob and his
family, we were reminded that troubled families have been with us
since Genesis. At the beginning of Jacob's story, he takes his
brother Esau's birthright and blessing.
The family saga continues with the story of Jacob's son Joseph
being sold into slavery by his own brothers. Eventually, through
Esau and Joseph's forgiveness, family rifts were mended and God
brought healing out of treachery.
Painful things still happen when someone insists they are
"right" and someone else is "wrong." It even happens in churches.
We know of one parish leader who had a difference of opinion with
some parishioners. She insisted that since she was "right" and they
were "wrong," she would never set foot in their place of business
We understand that whenever the name of the business or those
parishioners is mentioned, she continues to announce her hurt and
remind everyone she will "never set foot in that place again." How
did we lose the message of forgiveness we learned in Genesis?
The key to letting go of pain caused by the people we love seems
to lie in whether we have enough humility to recognize our own
flaws. Through the gift of humility, we understand we are no better
or worse than anyone else, regardless of the outer image we try to
project. Holding on to our feelings of superiority, nursing anger
and demanding God choose us above others only feeds the fires that
One day our grandsons were riding in their car seats in the back
seat of our car and they were having some sort of conversation
between them. This happens so frequently now that we weren't paying
particular attention to what they were saying. However, our ears
did perk up when Jamie softly told his brother, "No, it's too
We never did find out what prompted his remark, but his words
have stayed with us. Can we afford to keep making war, cutting off
parents or punishing any of our "brothers and sisters" while we
insist that we are God's favorites? In the words of our grandson,
"No, it's too dangerous."