Families. They’re a source of comfort and joy, support and unconditional love. They can also be a headache and a half. Right, everyone? We love ’em, but they drive us crazy. (And they feel the same way about us.) Who gets what holiday, who helped with the dishes and who didn’t, who spent the  whole visit in front of the TV and didn’t talk to anyone…

We attach a lot of baggage to our family interactions, but in Tuesday’s Living Faith devotion, Aileen O’Donoghue drew comfort from the fact that apparently Jesus went through the same thing: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it,” Jesus said in Luke 8:21. O’Donoghue says that his words reflect “what is true of most of our relationships with family. They don’t usually ‘get’ us the way our friends or colleagues…do… God gives them to us so we learn how to spend a lifetime loving people we wouldn’t necessarily choose as friends.”

On the other hand, a lot of family baggage we pack up and haul around on our own. If we approach family with the choice to love, to treat them with the same forbearance and respect we grant to others we encounter—in other words, if we approach our families with a good attitude—life is so much sweeter. Less laden with angst.

Christina Capecchi, my editor at Family Foundations, shared a beautiful perspective on family this week in her Twenty Something column, entitled Double Blessings:

“Isn’t that how life goes, that God showers down double blessings, and our thirsty souls are not only quenched, they are doused. We blink and quiver, stunned by how much the human heart can hold.“

And oh, how right she is. Thank God for families—for the joy they share with us, for the growth we achieve through dealing with the challenges…for the gift that they are to us.