Maybe your family starting point was loving and solid. Maybe you arrived in the middle of a train wreck.
Whatever starting point you had, I promise you’ll be encouraged during the 31 days of A Family Like Yours. But encouragement doesn’t mean you deny the brutal reality that the present and past can be.
Our family starting point
I wonder if the hole in the garage wall of the old home on Westline Drive in Columbus, Indiana is still there? My dad slammed his fist into that wall when I was in high school, and when he died over thirty years later it wasn’t fixed.
In the evenings in that house our family often walked around daintily, knowing random noises or loud talking could be taken wrong and set dad off. Mom tried to help us kids embrace dainty, but dainty wasn’t our thing.
It’s not that Dad was always angry – you just never knew what might get him going. Alcohol does that to you (I know personally).
Mom ‘helped’ by making sure nobody ever rocked the boat by talking about drinking or the mood in our home. If everybody could only be ‘good’ enough, everything would be all right. Shhhhh.
Scenes like that repeated themselves when I married Brenda, only now I was the dysfunctional one. Not much punching walls but lots of yelling and frustration and arguing. My wife Brenda would say she was dysfunctional, too. Her family, like mine and yours, has it’s own story.
Both Brenda and I grew up believing life was something you responded to. Your job was to deal with whatever came at you. You didn’t actually have any influence over how things turned out. No wonder we were frustrated. Oh well.
We were wrong.
You are the most influential person in your family
You can think things, do things, say things, and respond to things in ways that can shape and change your family. You cannot cure dysfunction, but you can get to where it doesn’t dominate your family life.
Your perspective on life shapes your family. Your expectations of your family and of your relationships shape your family.
The family life Brenda and I enjoy now is far FAR different from the life either one of us experienced growing up. And it’s far different from the family life she and I had in the early years of our marriage.
Somehow, slowly but certainly, we were transformed into a family like ours.
On the way to a family like yours
A perfect family would be boring. The imperfections are part of the flavoring. Like soup, you want the ingredients in your family add up to something good, flavorful, and healthy.
There’s no secret recipe. It’s just common sense. Most of it you already know, maybe all of it.
You know that some attitudes, some words, some emotions, some actions – work. They make good soup.
And some don’t. For many years I only knew the ones that didn’t work.
Gradually I discovered that aligning myself with certain things that work increased the chances of good things happening. We learn this as we get older, right? When it doesn’t work, you feel like you lose. When it does, it feels like winning.
Tomorrow we start looking at the kinds of things that win. The more you honor those things and cooperate with them, the more your family is transformed into what God has in mind for a family like yours.
What’s your family starting point?