Cathy and I were early in our Yuma years when we looked at each other one day, saying, “We’re one of the only couples we know who both grew up in homes where our parents genuinely loved and stayed committed to each other.” We were surprised at how uncommon this reality was for so many, when it was “normal” for us. Since that discovery, we have often looked back at our childhood home environments as a key reason our own marriage has been relatively healthy.
It’s likely that you have no real experience with the kind of relationships I am describing. Many people I know have families who stuck together, even though their homes weren’t warm, loving places. I commend those of you who have decided that you will do the hard work of learning how to raise your own children in an environment quite different from the one you experienced.
Even in my extended family, we had an unusual amount of loving camaraderie among us while we were growing up. I grew up in the same town with cousins on both sides of my family. We were frequently together with them, adults catching up with long visits and kids playing together. On many Sunday afternoons, men would watch a football game on TV and women would visit in the kitchen. Being on the farm gave us kids lots of space for running and playing to our heart’s content. At times, we even had the cousins from both sides over for the day; that was some of the most fun of all!
I will never forget the change when a family member got married. This particular family member had been single for much of life. The choice of a mate brought with it a problem we hadn’t faced before: addiction. After the initial joy and hope that accompanied the beginning of a new household, different ones began to notice changes in our family dynamic. The chemical addiction which raged in the new family member’s life started to add significant stress to our previously placid existence. Increasingly, the trust which had ruled all our relationships for so long began to be clouded by concern that the addicted spouse’s problem was like a black hole, threatening to pull everything of value into it.
The tragedy of what happened in our family is that the problem didn’t end, even when our family member who married the addicted person died. A family who had been guided by love and transparency was now marred by a guardedness that clouded the memory of our previous innocence. Though the rest of the family held together, relationships were fractured in a variety of ways.
As I said above, most of you have experienced the dull pain of murky, mistrustful relationships. If your family has been blessedly insulated, those problems have broken out in your workplace or among your friends. Tragically, they are all over the church. For that reason, we can’t overlook this subject during “40 Days of Community.” Just what is it that destroys relationships and how can they be built or rebuilt? That’s our topic this weekend at Stone Ridge Church. I hope you don’t miss it. In fact, I’d love to meet the friends you invite! Can’t be there? Catch the podcast!