"The only thing worse than having a family, I discovered, is not having a family."
- Theodore Dalrymple
Family is a messy thing.
They're the ones who know all of your deepest secrets; your darkest fears; your grimmest days; your most shameful sins. And you know every one of theirs. And still. You're supposed to love each other more than anyone else in the whole world.
How could that even work?
Why should that even work?
It's heart-rending to have a family. It's overwhelming and draining, and sometimes you'll wonder how it could ever possibly be worth it. "The supreme adventure," said Chesterton, "is being born." You're born into the middle of somebody's life, and then you're married into the middle of somebody's life. And so, for always and always, you're bound to people, through thick and thin, for better or worse. You always will be. And sometimes things are going to get too hard, too personal, too stressful.
We have to embrace that. Not accept it. Embrace it. No matter how tempting it might be, we can't hide. Your siblings will annoy you. Your parents will disappoint you. Your children will break your heart. You'll have to sacrifice and work and cry.
And then you will look back and realize that you wouldn't change it for all the world, and everything else besides. From the moment you slip the ring onto somebody's finger and say that you "do", you've given up yourself. You've accepted a "duel of honor to the death" (Chesterton), and it's then that the end truly begins.
We don't have to fear that end. Paradox: "The only way to find your life is to lay your own life down," (Andrew Peterson.) And when you take a moment and look around you at the life you've found, you'll realize that the "dying" was a small price.
C.S. Lewis once said, "The sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal." I'm happily realizing how right he was.
Family is messy, yes. Messy, raw, embarrassing. And so very beautiful.