Guest Post by Rebecca L. Matthews
As if the pressures of life as a teenager aren’t enough, try adding the weight of a broken family. The hurt and disruption are too deep to heal from, or are they? Peace isn’t possible, or is it? When fighting rules the household, trusts are broken, and key family relationships dissolve, the very foundation of what home, security, and family stand for is shaken.
As young women, the crumbling parental union brings our own insecurities to the forefront. The circumstances matter, the overheard attacks have relevance, the failures stand strong in our minds as we focus keenly on every detail of our parents’ struggles. We form deep-rooted beliefs that now make us cautious and guarded in life – afraid to trust, afraid to be hurt.
Regardless of why our parents’ marriages dissolve, we find ourselves judging their actions, angry at their reactions, and suffering from their consequences. We now question our own friendships, we question others’ motives, and we find reason to believe we’re being continuously hurt by life. Trust and hope teeter on the brink, ever threatening to slip over the edge and shatter.
Experiencing life in a broken family highlights reality in a way we’re often not ready to face. Life is tough. When one family morphs into two homes, two sets of rules, and parents who are transforming as they adjust to life anew, we feel overwhelmed. It’s apparent that we’re helpless to stop the tide of change. Adjustment isn’t easy, and it’s frightening to realize that we don’t have control of the outcomes of our own lives.
Oddly enough, this awareness causes us to grasp at control more frantically. We hunger for acceptance…somewhere, anywhere. Unfortunately, we can seek for and find it in the wrong places. We look for love, often in relationships that aren’t good for us. We long for security, committing to friendships that are toxic. We join in behaviors that we know are wrong but allow us to feel accepted by others. The costs can be high though, and we seek to find a source to blame…the broken family. We harbor anger and hurt at such intense levels that it makes the simplest of tasks, like school or work, difficult to focus on. Therefore, we falter and fall behind, ever more frustrated.
Don’t despair! Hope and joy can be experienced in brokenness. It can be experienced even in the worst of circumstances. Peace does not come from escaping the curse of difficulties (we’ll always have difficulties of varying degrees), God’s peace comes to us during them. When we seek Christ and choose to trust His will for our lives, when we give Him control, realizing we don’t have it anyway, we have license to let go. There’s peace in that, a peace that truly does pass all understanding. A peace that doesn’t really make sense to our human minds. It’s not meant to. It’s a Spiritual peace that only comes from believing and trusting God.
Peace does not come from escaping the curse of difficulties, God’s peace comes to us during them.
When our focus is on others’ failures, their unacceptable decisions, and the troubles they’ve brought to our lives, we inevitably struggle. When we change our focus to be on Christ, placing Him at our center, a shift that can move mountains takes place. It may seem subtle, quiet, and unnoticed by others at first, it’s personal, after all, but it will be intense and life-changing for the better as it heals us.
It might be helpful to look at our family members as separate people who are trying to deal with life in this difficult world, just as we are. Pray for them. Though our parents are adults and we’ve held them to a higher standard for which, in our eyes, they’ve failed, they’re people just the same. Pray for them. Remember, Jesus died for them, as well.
We can choose to leave the struggles we’re experiencing in our broken family to Him. We can trust that He’ll bring about the peace and healing that we so desperately desire, and then we’re able to watch as He works. God will astound!
Sides aren’t necessary to be taken. Choose not to be caught in the middle. We can leave the drama behind and separate from the brokenness…just enough to simply be. Be ourselves. Be free. Be peaceful. Be healed…by Christ who loves and strengthens us.