But I'm still realizing that's not just me--that's everybody. Family is difficult. Family can hurt. Family is confusing and clumsy and crazy. That's part of the beauty of it all. I have yet to hear about a family relationship which does not come with its own complex set of considerations and allowances. Even with the best of upbringings, nothing exposes one's heart issues like being around one's parents, siblings, spouse, or children.
How about being around one's church folk? Author Edward T. Welch asks, "Have you ever noticed that for many people, church as family doesn't exist? More often I overhear people who talk as if the church were their enemy." (When People are Big and God is Small)
Ouch. No one among us is getting this thing all right all the time. Sometimes, that's the greatest comfort we can give or receive. We are broken pieces, gloriously imperfect, and together, we form a perfect picture of redemption and grace. Community can be bittersweet.
The timing of this "Family Matters" series kick-off was a little eerie. I just returned last night from a weekend training I signed up for more than two months ago, focused on biblical marriage and biblical parenting. I heard a lot this weekend. I still have plenty of sifting to do in days (years?) to come, but there were a few takeaways that spoke especially loudly to me.
For instance... one of the speakers, Tim Keeter, spoke about a mentoring model for premarital counseling at his church. With this approach, a younger couple is assigned to an older couple, ideally for a period of five months. What happens for those five months? The way the model plays out when he and his wife are mentoring, Tim explained, is that "You two come over to our place on Friday evening after work, and whatever we're doing that night, that's what you're doing that night." Whether it's going to a softball game, going grocery shopping, getting dinner ready, or getting kids to bed, the premarital couple becomes a part of the family for the night, seeing real Christianity lived out in real life.