Thursday, May 7, 2009

Family Reunion

For more years than I want to admit there's been a rift in my relationship with my family members. Those of you who don't know I have 5 sisters and 2 brothers. My parents had 5 kids in their first 7 years of marriage and then when I was almost seven my mom gave birth to twins and then a girl when I was ten. I'm called the baby of our first family and I relished those first seven years. I remember when my mother gave birth to the twins that I upset and didn't want to see them as they were taking away whatever birthright I percieved I had. When I finally went to the hospital (i'm sure kicking and screaming) and saw the twins, Dale and Gail, I immediately melted and loved them immediately. I've never had kids myself but I wonder if this is a similar experience parents have when they see their newborns? I know that now I'm not particulary fond of newborns and a little scared of their fragility. I don't really interact with kids until they are at least 1 year of age, then they have me hook,line,and sinker. All that to say, I loved hanging with my new little brothers and sister. I remember this feeling up until I was around 18. (more on this later) I loved when they were around and liked for the most part playing with them, even as a teenager.

When I was in 3rd grade I remember hearing that my mom was going to have another baby. That was an exciting time for me. I knew that my dad was just kidding about leaving if we had anymore kids in the family. (part of the reason I didn't want any more siblings)(parents watch what your tell your kids, they take you literally) I also remember listening to the baby growing inside my mother. Jill was born October 2 (I can't say the year because now she's a woman and they get mad about revealing their age) She became my favorite immediately. (Sorry Dale and Gail) Truth be known I think she became all of our family's favorite. She was very talkative and would start up conversations with strangers at an early age and everyone loved her who came in contact with her, she was just plain fun to be with.

I always for the most part got along with my older siblings and they definitely included me in things, although I'm not so sure I'm fond of being included in dress up. My oldest sister kept me grounded in the arts while my older brother made sure that I knew how to play sports and didn't embarrass him on the ballfield. I felt a good balance and definitely felt loved.

All in all I had a happy childhood with normal ups and downs along the way.

Sometime in the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school I came to the realization that I couldn't follow the chosen religion of my family. This wasn't a decision that came lightly to me. It wasn't a rebellion, it was a non-belief. This was major as I spent a lot of time doing church activities, and I had what I thought to be lots of privilidges so I felt that I would be on lockdown if I let my parents know of my departure. I decided to keep it to myself, and would let them know when I turned 18 of my decision a year and a half into the future. The problem with this was I became a very convincing liar and lived 2 lives pretty convincingly.

When I turned 18 I let the family know of my decision and that is when I felt a shift in my relationships. I don't think it was so much a shift in their minds as it was in mine. From that point on I felt a separation from the family.

Life then went on (I will blog on more of my life in future blogs) and the separation became greater and greater. It eventually got to a point where I didn't see some sibling for over 5 years. I would visit cities they lived in and they wouldn't even know it.

Somewhere over the last 4 years the Holy Spirit put it in my heart that I needed to reconcile with my family and be more transparent with them. Slowly, I started to do this. First through letters to my parents and finally although the journey of reconciliation is not totally over, with my several of my siblings over Christmas time. I've decided that it's okay disagree and but that doesn't mean that my viewpoint is their viewpoint nor is my viewpoint necessarily the correct viewpoint. I found out that arguments and letting them go one is just wasted time, like in years!

Since Christmas I've had some great times talking to my siblings and even my parents. I've laughed and even cried. (Stop it Gail, and no I'm not crying right now!) I now for the first time in years look forward to spending time with family and it's been years (close to 20) since I could say this.

This year has been a great year of healing with my family.

4 comments:

The Henricksen Journal said...

Ohhh! I had no idea you felt so estranged from our family since you were 18. My "departure" from family was for different reasons, but the reconciliation details are similar. The Holy Spirit moved both of us. I am so glad that we are closer now and that I get to occasionally make you cry.

You baby. (That's for naming Jill as your favorite instead of me!)

carey clan said...

I love this!!! First I love that I am everyone's favorite, but I love your expression of the spirit letting you know that you should reconcile with your family!! I have had several different experiences with that as I have one by one reconciled with the siblings.
I have loved getting together with everyone. There is nothing like being with family!! Speaking of that, let's get together soon.

Curtis said...

Chad,
What a wonderful story. Not that you had problems with your family, but that you have reconciled with them. Time is one thing that we have all too little of and it's too precious to waste. You're a good man, Chad.

skouson said...

I agree, Chad. And I knew you through all that time, and never even asked. I am so sorry. I am so glad, however, that you are doing so well. It seems clear (as I read your experiences) that you are following your conscience and the spirit to do good things. May you be richly blessed as you work to further the work of Jesus Christ.