May 23, 2013
Written by Joe Pisani
Tuesday, 16 August 2011 23:00
While I was in church Sunday, instead of paying attention to the priest’s sermon about the evils of materialism, I was daydreaming about the delights of materialism — a surprise raise from the boss and that royal blue Harley I’d love to buy, not to mention one of those turbo-charged iPads.
But then, they started reading the prayer petitions so I snapped to attention and responded, “Lord, hear our prayer,” as we appealed for world peace, an end to hunger, help for the homeless, and this one: “That we work to heal divisions and grudges in our families.” Somehow I suspect my mother sent that idea down from heaven. (I hope she’s in heaven.)
Family life can turn into an emotional Iraq that pits sisters against sisters, brothers against brothers, children against parents, in-laws against outlaws, and husbands against wives, producing the kind of turmoil that over time can ferment into lifelong resentments. We’re more tolerant of the foibles in our friends than in our family members.
I can’t get too personal here, or there will be no birthday cards for me next year. Hey, there were no birthday cards for me last year.
Family divisions are caused by many things, from petty insults to personality differences, from disputes over wills to parental favoritism. Sometimes the grudges are so old we can’t remember what precipitated them.
The celebrity world is rife with family feuds. Every week Lindsay Lohan’s clan has a new outburst, followed by professional divorcees Kate and Jon Gosselin and the sisters, who’ve made careers out of insulting one another over their weight.
So many relationships are damaged when in-laws fight about wedding plans, or worse, when there’s a divorce, because even though we vow not to take sides, we often do. In my house, our daughters argue over who will be in their wedding party, and no one is engaged yet.
I’ve known people who’ve avoided funerals because of family grudges or ruined holiday celebrations because one brother refused to sit at the dinner table with another brother.
Families are supposed to be our shelter from the storms of life, providing solace and comfort; they’re supposed to be where we go when we need healing and trust. If you can’t turn to your family for compassion, where do you turn — to your therapist or your schnauzer?
On Saturday when I was at the community center, I came upon a large reunion of an African-American family. Everyone wore yellow T-shirts celebrating the event, young nieces and nephews, middle-aged aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers. They played volleyball and sat around picnic tables, laughing and reminiscing. I watched them with an envious longing in my heart because I wanted to share their outpouring of joy and love.
Then I remembered the prayer intention, “That we work to heal divisions and grudges in our families.”
The first step, I suspect, is to live and let live because life is too short to cling to resentments, and in the end, it’s better to heal old wounds and look to the new day.
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