Hope for Broken Family Relationships

The Lord has graciously provided opportunities to share my story to a couple groups of women this past month. It has been a beautiful time of gathering with my sisters in Christ and sharing the powerful work of the Lord in my life.

Sharing a testimony is powerful. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:11-15, “For we who live are always given over to death because of Jesus, so that Jesus’ life may also be revealed in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. And since we have the same spirit of faith in keeping with what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we also believe, and therefore speak. We know that the One who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and present us with you. Indeed, everything is for your benefit, so that grace, extended through more and more people, may cause thanksgiving to increase to God’s glory.”

By the testimony God has written in my life through salvation and the enduring of suffering, the example of Christ’s work within me brings life to you. It inspires you and “causes thanksgiving to increase to God’s glory.” Therefore, I say it again – sharing a testimony is powerful!

There are certainly many components to my testimony, most of which I’ll share over time with you, but the one I want to highlight today is critical in today’s society because divorce is rampant.

Divorce can be worse to deal with than death, especially when there are children involved, because the tension in the original family unit rarely leaves.

When children are younger, they are often divided between their parents’ houses. Schedules get complicated usually causing greater strife. Neither parent’s house feels like home anymore. And the security the child once knew is gone. They’re forced into greater maturity than was necessary for their age. This often leads to children looking for security and love from others, which is dangerous!

Every event where the original family gathers is awkward or fearful, wondering how the divorced parents will react. Hurtful comments are thrown either loudly or under their breath. Children, especially in their adult years, have to coordinate where their parents will sit to keep distance apart, while also trying to navigate other friendship and family dynamics.

There’s the tension of which parent to share exciting and/or heavy news with first. Who do you spend the holidays with? Do you choose a rotating schedule or pick a special time for each one? Then there’s the dynamic of when the kids marry and they have spouses’ family to think about.

Let’s not even get into grandchildren.

This is all heavy, brutally honest, and yet only highlights the surface of a torrent of emotions and difficulties this brings. I’m sure many of you have experienced this to some extent whether yourselves as the parent or child, or as family or friends. It’s so very difficult to navigate, but I will say, there is always hope.

From my early memories, I would say our home was peaceful. My mom was very engaged with my brother and me. My dad was working a lot, but I felt the times I had with him were special. They were excellent, united parents, who supported each other well when it came to us kids.

Through a lot of very heavy circumstances that happened in our family in my pre-teen and early teenage years, the tension grew in our home. Eventually, this led to my parents separating when I was eighteen years old.

It was devastating to my brother and me. Though there had been a lot of tension, it was still our parents, our family, whom we loved dearly. Our security was gone and the next ten years would prove to be awful.

Yet, the Lord was extremely gracious to us all as we adjusted to this new way of life. My parents married other people. There were a lot of difficult transitions with this, but I can honestly say, I am blessed with four amazing parents now who love us deeply.

There was the transition of suddenly welcoming three other siblings to the mix. This was hard. But I came to love them as my own family.

Fear of messing up my own marriage was heavy when I first married Michael. I was afraid to talk about anything that might cause an argument, so I avoided all of the smaller issues that bothered me in order to avoid the conflict. Yet, again, by God’s grace, and Michael’s patience, we worked through it. Now, I no longer fear Michael leaving me. I trust him unreservedly.

There’s still tension when thinking about holidays and moments when my four parents will meet in the same room for an event. It’s still hard to think about who to share news with first, and how best to maintain visits and relationships. But ultimately, I realize that it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. All of them love Jesus as I do, and I trust the Lord to work it out for us all.

Michael has been a huge gift from God as well. The Lord has used him to graciously bring peace where needed and brought further healing and connection between me and my parents.  And I must say, sometimes I wonder if they love Michael more than me haha. He’s a very special man to us.

There was a time where I never thought peace would return to my family; a time where the weight of grief and the thick tension was very heavy. However, God has redeemed our family’s situation and brought the peace we all needed. He restored what was broken in our hearts. He has used my suffering to connect with others who’ve experienced similar hardships in order to point them to Christ.

A lot of your marriages have suffered greatly through the last few years. Being isolated brought many issues to the surface. Where you could once ignore or bury them in your jobs and other commitments was now forcibly evident. It’s brought marriages to the brink. I admonish you – get help! Get biblical counselling. Watch the Love and Respect series. Do whatever you can to remember why you loved and respected each other from the beginning of your relationship. Get on your knees and cry out to God – both alone and together. Fight for each other rather than against one another.

You do not want to get divorced! It is not the easy way out. In fact, it’s harder than you’ll ever imagine. Think of the saying, “Grass isn’t greener on the other side; it’s greener where you water it.” Emmerson Eggerich, author of the Love and Respect series says that most struggling marriages are two good-willed people who are stuck on the “crazy cycle.” (Watch this series!) Invest in your marriage. Make Jesus your first priority and your marriage second.

Your marriage can be a beautiful example of Christ and the church. He uses your marriage to be a light in this dark world. Don’t let the enemy snuff it out.

To those who have divorced, or are children of divorce, pray for your families. The Lord is gracious and has not abandoned you. He is the One who can break strongholds, soften hearts, and bring peace. It is possible to be unified in Him, in your family. It is possible to have peace where you’ve only known tension. Don’t give up and accept, “It is what it is.” No! It doesn’t have to be that way!

It will take work. It’ll take counselling if you haven’t done that already. It will take humility and grace. It’ll take you putting in extra effort to forgive and rebuild relationships. And it will take getting on your knees in surrender to the Lord, in prayer, to bring about change.

This applies as well for parents who have remarried. Even if you’re married to other people now, you can still forgive your former spouse and find peace with each other. This will be the greatest gift you can give your children, new spouses, family, and friends. And this is what God wants for all His adopted children.

So, don’t lose hope. Seek the Lord, and trust in His great and mighty, transformative work.

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