A few days ago I picked up Jen Hatmaker’s new book For the Love. A friend had said she couldn’t put it down so I was intrigued. A couple of chapters in and I was hooked too. I’m not even done with it yet, but one of the chapters impacted me so much that I felt the need to break my deafening two-year blog silence. I just had to write about it and share how free I feel from years of self-condemnation.
The chapter I am referring to is Chapter 9: Hope for Spicy Families. Jen describes her categorization of families as either “sweet” or “spicy” and says that her family is a “spicy” family. Their “permanent default setting is exclamation marks”. Here are her words exactly, “So anytime I am around a sweet family, I have a crisis. It simmers until a comment from one of their children to another – ‘Sister? Would you like the last brownie? You take it since you did all my chores as a surprise for my half birthday…’ – launches a watershed moment.” I seriously feel like I could have written this chapter myself. I feel such a camaraderie with Jen, kind of like we could be soul sisters or long lost relatives. You see, I am a fellow pastor’s wife and mom of a very spicy family. I don’t really know for sure if there is, but there has GOT to be some Greek or Italian blood in us! We are a large family too – four sons and a daughter. I am always nervous if the windows are open at our house that the neighbors might hear my son scream at his sister and call her a freaking turd, or take me seriously when I yell up the stairs that he is seriously going to die.
I have spent years thinking there was something SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH US. We tried to hide our spiciness, especially at church. But that doesn’t always work out so well. Those times when our family spiciness leaked out for public consumption, I just knew the sweet families were thinking we were out of control. After reading Jen’s take on this issue – laughing and crying all the way through it – I feel like I have been set free from the self-condemnation. God loves our family just the way we are – spiciness and all. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just different than a sweet family and that’s ok.