Being a family is like running a very long – long – long way… think a long-distance marathon… not a sprint.
For those who didn’t run track… Parenting is more like getting a Ph.D. A long – very expensive – time-consuming – exhausting and overwhelmingly difficult pursuit. Add marriage to that mix and you’re effectively getting a double Ph.D at the same time. 🙂
It’s a really big deal to get married and start a family.
I think we often underestimate the extraordinary accomplishment it is to live the traditional family life. Lots and lots of us get married. Lots and lots of us have kids… but less and less of us are staying married and even fewer have been able to maintain a healthy adult relationship with our kids. (source article)
Why is that…?
Not trying to be trite here. Not trying to look at this from an elevated perch of maturity and wisdom. Truly examining this question as I reflect on my own life. Why is family such a huge challenge?
First observation; Family is more than a life milestone to shoot for. It’s a calling from God to fulfill. If we approach it as another ‘to-do’ on our bucket list of life, we may dramatically mistake the obvious. If this is a ‘blueprint’ for living – as handed down by God himself to the children of Adam / Eve… then it’s going to be challenged and resisted.
Second: Family requires healthy relationships to work. Healthy relationships require respect, patience, selflessness, and humility. Not character traits that can just be easily downloaded like a new phone app. These lessons are life-long and are continually being refined, tested, and improved by the circumstances we share. Living for someone else is not easily sustained. We can do it for short bursts of time, but with extended pressure we’re forced to admit how far short we fall. Grace may be most important missing ingredient in most long-term relationships.
Third: Family is all about finishing strong! It’s not how well we get started, It’s not about how few mistakes we make or how organized our homes appear to be… it’s about the determination to get back up when we fall. The resolve to never – ever – stop trying to ‘be’ a family. Our lives are full of dead-end opportunities, broken promises, and people who disappoint, it’s up to us to push past our offenses and pain. Like a long distance race, we have to set a pace to finish. We have to ask God to give us strength when we have nothing left in the tank.
I’ve done most of my marriage & parenting ‘completely wrong’. I did great at the starting line, crashed and burned at year 9 and by God’s redemptive grace year 11 was a fresh start. It’s now year 26, and by the power Christ within, my faith, marriage and family are stronger than ever. (See my book; Roadtrip to Redemption )
It’s not that we’re blessed to live ‘safe’ lives, quite the opposite in fact. We’ve seen one crisis after another hit our family, but we’ve also seen God faithfully meet us in each desperate hour. It’s the strength of a shared faith and mutual determination to live out of a spirit of love and not fear…those factors made a huge difference in our family.
My prayer for you. No matter how bad you feel you’re doing…”Don’t give up!”
Don’t give into the guilt and shame, don’t surrender your family to frustration and fear. God is present. ALL THE TIME. It may be time to shut out the other voices and just listen to His. After all… He invented Family and Marriage, He might just have some helpful advice to share 🙂
Peace out, Pastor B.