Every family has stuff. And by that I don’t mean the stuff we’ve all piled up in our basements, garages, spare rooms, attics, and storage sheds. Not the stuff we’ve accumulated, stashed, or just couldn’t bring ourselves to throw away along the way (perhaps someday I’ll tackle that topic in a later blog), but the stuff that has affected and shaped us, for good or bad, into who we are.
Every family has stuff. Family stuff. The stuff we’ve all accumulated along the way with shared experiences, memories, and relationships that have produced lessons learned, patterns established, habits ingrained, and themes forged into our lives that often go undetected until many years later when the “unpacking” or “processing” of our stuff commences.
We often try to hide our stuff because it can be a devastating source of shame, regret, sorrow, or pain if exposed. It’s things like moral failures, foolish choices, family squabbles, financial ruin, or a pattern of failed relationships that we’d simply like to ignore, hoping no one will give it a second glance. After all, nobody likes the interrogating glare of the spotlight when the sight, sound, or smell of something unhealthy is unearthed. There’s also the stuff we’re unaware of but that’s glaringly apparent to just about everyone within a 10-mile radius.
While our tendency is to hide our negative stuff, God has other plans. In the infinite wisdom and providence of God, He has been using all our “family stuff” to shape, mold, and bring about transformation in us. That’s the reassurance of Paul’s words in Roman 8:28-29. “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose . . . to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” Paul had stuff too. But he knew all the stuff in his life was being used by God to somehow bring about His greater purposes in and through Paul.
Having this perspective allows us to see and appreciate the good stuff too. Not all the patterns, habits, and themes in our family are negative. There are also a lot of positives, like a solid work ethic, an ability to laugh at adversity, an inherited creative talent, a commitment to integrity and honor that may have marked your family for generations. To throw out all the stuff means we’ll miss out on celebrating with gratefulness the good stuff that is masterfully woven into the fabric of our stories.
So lets make a commitment together: No more pretending. We all have stuff. I do. You do. It’s time to be honest about our stuff—both the good and the bad. Some of that won’t be easy. But when we turn our stuff, all of our stuff, over to God, He will bring joy to us and glory to Himself.