Given the increased individualism in our culture, it's become harder and harder for family to retain significance in our lives. I think that, increasingly, adults struggle to relate to their parental families and so the role of friends has become a lot bigger in our lives. This is even more the case with broken families. In light of this, a couple of thoughts about families....
1. We need to remember that our families are part of God's redemptive plan in our lives. God's work does not happen outside of our families nor apart from them, but in and through them. We don't get to choose our families, like we do with our friends or marriage partner. They are given to us. They are part of God's providence in our lives and thus, for good and for bad, and so we need to see God's work in and through them. This means that even the worst experiences in any family can be a vehicle of redemption used by God in our lives. He can take the worst things and make them servants of our joy and sanctification.
2. The fact that we can't hide who we are in our families is also absolutely crucial to our spiritual growth. This is a place where we can't pretend or hold up a spiritual mask. Who we are with our families is who we are. We can often feel that it's the worst bits of us that come out in our families, but actually it's the truest parts of us that really come out. This gives us a real opportunity for self-knowledge, growth and sanctification.
3. Our families need to be viewed in the light of God's family. Even the best family is only ever a signpost to something much better and longer lasting - God's eternal family. And the worst family does not define us - we are not trapped by our past. For we have been adopted into a new family that will never fail us or fall short of our hopes.