Life is difficult. That can probably be filed under “unnecessary to say.” No one goes through life without encountering a wide range of frustrations. And family, more often than not, can cause most of them.
Maybe you can relate. Family creates frustrating gaps between expectations and reality. What you choose as your life’s path might contradict what your family (or at least members of that family) wants you to do. Maybe despite your best efforts, you feel like a disappointment, or that you let down someone who expected different, more. You end up questioning your chosen path, and the fire of even the hottest passion can start to sputter.
Finding a way through family strife is one of the frustrating realities of life. The idea that family should be our best support system, the ones we can count on no matter what, those we can go to for wisdom and consolation, isn’t something we have to learn; it’s natural. Blood is thicker than water. That’s what makes it so heart-breaking and wearisome when family isn’t our safety net.
Jesus knew that pain and frustration too. He knew what it was like to disappoint his family. To lose their support, to think they see you as an embarrassment.
Jesus grew up as a carpenter, but he had a change of career. He started travelling around and talking to people about religious things. He started talking with people about God and what it meant to be a good person. And people were listening. He was successful. He had people following him and listening. He just wasn’t part of the family business anymore.
For the most part, he lost the support of his family. In fact, they once came to get him and take him home. They were embarrassed by what he was doing. His family thought he had lost his mind. And not just his family—his whole hometown decided once that it was better to toss Jesus off a cliff than have him hang around.
Despite success, despite some rather incredible things he was saying and doing, his family didn’t approve of his choice of careers or his words about kindness, God, and the poor. It wasn’t the kind of thing they wanted their son and brother involved in or to be known for. They didn’t want his actions staining the reputation of the whole family.
There was more than a bit of conflict when they came to get him. They were embarrassed by him and in response, he came just short of disowning them. When someone told him that his mother and brothers were there to get him, Jesus gave them no more significance than anyone who was actually listening to his message.
Jesus knows what family strife was like. He knows how hard the closest relationships can be. He knows what it’s like to feel a family’s disappointment and carry on without them. If you’re feeling alone and maybe abandoned by those you thought you could count on, remember that Jesus gets you. He’s been there too.