Love thy family as you love your fellow strangers
I didn't always think that being God's love to my family members was a big way to serve him. Even though my family members are the people who mean the most to me, they were also the people I spent the most time with, and it didn't always seem particularly exciting or exotic to intentionally be God's love to them. I love my family with my own love and thought that God loving through me with his much more selfless, good and powerful love was only for strangers who might not know him that I encountered, because that seemed much more adventure-filled.
While we are definitely called to be God's love to strangers, he also calls us to be his fully present love to the people we are around everyday who see us at our best and worst, who can both love and hurt us the most: our family. He desires to pour his love into our family members' lives through our presence to them (and bless our lives in return.)
Loving our family is tough because the ways we try to love within them often go unnoticed, unappreciated and get rejected sometimes. It can be tempting to put ourselves before our family's needs and wants, not letting them know that we need them.
On top of that, while some family relationships are beautiful, others hurt. While some seem effortless, others take more work. Love calls us into that. To love our family, especially where it's hard, we have to look to how our heavenly father loves us so our relationships with each other can be a reflection of his love.
We have to let God be the one to take the blows for us, to hold his healing hand to our hearts, and to fill the places in us that humans never can, or the places they have failed to fill. Love is asking how each member of our family needs to be loved and loving them that way. It is throwing aside what our expectations for them are and accepting them as they are with unconditional acceptance, the way God accepts us. It is serving them, reaching out to them, being peacemakers.
I want to be a sister who pours myself and our heavenly father's love into my younger brother and sister's lives, letting them know they are of priceless value and essential in this world. I want my mom and dad to know how much I need them and appreciate getting to be their daughter by involving them in my life and being involved in theirs. I want our heavenly father's love to pour through me over every frustration, aggravation and hurt that comes from being part of a family.
We cannot underestimate our divine call to love the people in our family. It's a big job. They are the people we have been entrusted with, that we have been sewn together in our Father's perfect plan with. Our Father loves us so much the only way left to show it was to give himself to us through his Son. That's the way he is calling us to give who we are to our families, too.
Mia Pohlman is a Perryville, Mo., native studying at Truman State University. She loves performing, God and the color purple -- not necessarily in that order.