Pieces of Formation: Your Role in the Family

Lone bird.

I was the peacemaker in my family, and I was the listener. 

No matter who was fighting with whom — siblings, parents, siblings with parents — I seemed to be the one who not only got along with everyone but also had a way of making and preserving peace. I could help those who were fighting feel seen, heard, and understood. I could be a safe place to go. I often served as a go-between. 

And I knew how to hold the stories. My parents trusted me with theirs, and I often felt I knew my siblings better than they knew me. I just had an ability to listen. 

For a long time, after I went through my original process of looking at my container, I resented both of these roles I played in my family. Why should I have been the peacemaker? Why should I have held the stories? I carried anger, resentment, and sadness about these roles for a number of years in my adult life. 

But then, about three years ago, it changed. 

I came to see that beyond playing the roles of peacemaker and listener in my family, I am a peacemaker and listener. These are part of my nature. They are charisms God has given me.

Part of the reason I held those roles in my family is because they’re akin to my nature. 

Today, I love that being a peacemaker and listener are who I am. These gifts make up a large part of what I do with my life today, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

But it doesn’t work out that way for everyone. Some of us played roles in our families that were assigned to us and had nothing to do with who we really are or were. Some of us took up roles because we thought we wanted them, only to learn later that we didn’t. 

What role did you play in your family? How did it impact who you became?