So Your Family Has Problems…

…everyone else’s does too.

The Nelson family, 1960

The Nelson family, 1960

I meet weekly with a small group of Christian men and we talk about our lives. We share our successes and our failures, our progress and our frustration, encouraging one another to trust God and persist in meeting the daily challenges of life. Over a couple of years, we have come to know quite a bit about each other and our immediate and extended families. It’s not all Ozzie and Harriet either. We have “issues.”

Naturally, talk of our family issues can arouse strong feelings, especially as we (consciously or unconsciously) compare ourselves to the “ideal” family, perhaps represented by the TV Nelsons of the 1960s. Embarrassment, shame, disappointment, discouragement are several that come to mind. But why should we be comparing ourselves to others?  That’s just what people do.

Even when we do size ourselves up against others, is it a fair comparison? Usually we know all about our own troubles and nothing of theirs.  (I’ve heard this expressed as us “comparing our insides to other people’s outsides.”) In reality, no family is perfect; we just don’t always know about their problems. The real-life, off-camera Nelsons had their share of issues.

Here’s a look at some statistics on major problems affecting family life:

Are you surprised? It seems to me that these serious issues are relatively common, more common than ordinarily recognized. The chances that divorce, addiction, abusive behavior, and/or other significant adverse circumstances will affect your family are significant. If this is you, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. This is the fallen state of humanity.

More comforting is the knowledge that you can do something about it. Seek help for your personal and family problems. Find a therapist, find friends like mine with whom to share your struggle, and trust in God who has all power.  Jesus came in order to free us to admit our weakness.  As Christians, we don’t need to be perfect and don’t need to compare ourselves with others.

Be assured that healing happens.  It’s happening in my family and the families of my men’s group, but it does take work. Concentrate on your work and ask the Holy Spirit do his.  God won’t let you down.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.               Proverbs 3:5-6