Steve and I were lucky enough to lead a marriage conference at our church recently. Let me just say that it was terrifying! On the one hand, being with people that we know and love made it easier to step out into something new; but, on the other, they were people that we really know and love so they knew our faults and our screw ups. If they didn’t, there was a high likelihood that they would figure those things out soon. With that in mind, it’s a good thing that our philosophy for a marriage conference is to share what we’ve learned through our mistakes and not to act like we have it all together or that we even know what we’re doing half the time. We don’t.
Most of the time we truly desire to follow God in our actions and decisions and we try to serve and love and sacrifice for one another. But, there are those other times in which we become all too human.
The human side of my heart is sneaky and quick and can high-jack my mind and emotions faster than I can even explain. One minute I’m fighting the good fight and the next I wake up in a daze wondering how I got to a place ruled by selfishness. It’s dizzying really… how quickly my faith can falter, my love can be eclipsed by anger and my joy can vanish. I would think, after all we’ve been through, that I would be quicker on my feet. However, the truth of the matter is that we have our issues. Everyone does and anyone who says they don’t shouldn’t be leading a marriage conference. I also know that we are called to obedience as believers and if we chose to teach, we are held to an even higher standard. Needless to say, the responsibility of this conference has been heavy on my heart for the last few months.
But I was honored to give it a shot because I see what’s going on in my life as well as so many others.
I’m tired. Somedays, REALLY tired.
The same goes for many people around me. Tired of the struggle and battle that wages in their families. Not necessarily marital struggles, although that is often the case. But also spiritual battles, hopelessness, heartache over wandering children, strife in family relationships, financial burdens, fear, loneliness, addiction, lack of passion or joy or communication, the struggle of being a single parent, illness … There are as many issues that weigh on our families as there are families – and it can take a toll on us. One minute you’re standing in the gap, praying, believing, convinced that God is doing something new and the next you find yourself looking up in the face of an enemy that is laughing hysterically at how easily you were to take down and how the whole family can be taken down with you.
I hate it. I hate even more that I don’t have an answer for those people that are in this place and asking, “What do I do when…?” There isn’t always an answer. And did I say that I hate that? I want an answer for the wife who is in tears over her marriage. I want an answer for the mother who has lost her child. I want an answer for the husband that feels like he’s empty and has nothing left to offer. I want an answer for the wife (or husband) who has a spouse addicted to porn. I want an answer for the parent who is watching their child lose the essence of who they are because of the influences of the world.
I just want an answer.
But tonight I don’t have one. Tonight I fall on God’s grace and mercy and beg for His forgiveness, His strength, His wisdom, His power, and His redemptive work to move in the lives of His children. I fall on the truth that God is always faithful to His children. And I fall on the hope that our heavenly Father will wipe away every tear that has been shed because of our families. One day, when I see Him face to face, maybe I’ll get answers to some of these questions.
But, more than likely, looking into the face of such a wonderful Savior, I won’t have a need for answers. The fact that He wants me to be part of His family will probably leave me on the floor in a heap of gratitude. Me… all too human, all too frail and all too fallible. But also a woman that, in spite of all her shortcomings, desires more than anything to love and serve her God and for her family to do the same.
None of us have it all figured out. Things fall apart sometimes. Life gets hard and we get tired. Our marriages struggle. Our families have difficult times. But I do have one thing figured out. Not that I do it well but I do know it to be true.
We need one another.
When life knocks the wind out of us, we need someone to hold us up.
When we don’t have the energy to try anymore, we need someone to pray for us and encourage us to stay in the fight.
When we are afraid and lonely, we need someone who will just be close by.
When we screw up, we need someone to remind us of forgiveness and redemption.
And when the clouds part and our lives are touched by joy and peace, we need someone to smile and be thankful with us.
In other words……we need family.