5 THINGS WE LEARNED
Many people have asked us to explain some of the lessons our family learned along the road of recovery and our season of rebuilding that took place a number of years ago. Here's the truth...we are wounded in relationships, but we are also healed in the context of relationship as well. It was for this reason that we went through the process of recovery together. Each step was navigated openly and honestly, and of course age appropriately. The following are just a few things that have stuck out to each of us personally. They may seem simplistic or even obvious, but being fully aware of what you do and why you respond to life and your loved ones the way you do on a daily basis are very key elements to ongoing family health. It took a very difficult season for our family to realize that we were not functioning consistently, or even at all, in some very fundamental areas of communication with each other. Here are a few things we have learned in that season…
1. (James) “I learned that one of the greatest gifts I can give others is to be fully present, listen intently, and respond with empathy.” When you spend a good portion of your life battling compartmentalization and isolation because of a wounded past, it makes it difficult to be present with your loved ones. When my coping mechanisms were obliterated and the blinders were finally taken off, I could see clearly the beauty of each and every moment. I could feel deeply for those around me and respond in unhindered love. Believe me when I say there is no substitution for giving and receiving in pure and present relationship with those you love.
2. (Teri) “I learned that you should never be afraid to speak what is in your heart.” I lived much of my life shut off because of fear. When I was finally free from that suffocating place of silence through our journey of personal and family recovery, I realized that God had given me a voice to use, not only to share His love, but also to live and function confidently with those around me. This has opened up a new world of vulnerability and authenticity that have been truly life changing!
3. (Grace-age 8 at the time) “I learned that when we work together as a family, things are much better.” When we asked Grace to give us one thing she learned, she paused for a second and looked around at our family and gave this beautiful answer. It is a true fact that you can live together in one home; but working together, sacrificing for one another and hanging in there when things are hard, takes a whole lot of heart and effort…it takes a team. Her little eyes said it all.
4. (Elise-age 12 at the time) “I learned that you don’t need to be afraid in hard times because Jesus brings you peace.” For our Elise, this is a living testimony in the making. When the words came off her lips, they had the weight of life circumstances and the honest taste of reality with each and every syllable. She personally has had to battle against many fears due to severe and life threatening allergies and autoimmune issues as well as navigate the difficulties of family tragedy. When she says Jesus gives her peace in the storms of life, she means it.
5. (Rachel-age 16 at the time) “I learned that I had to take responsibility for my own relationship with the Lord.” For a teenager, life is hard to begin with. If you add to that the difficulty of moving to new schools, the effects upon her life from her father’s ministry failure, observing addiction recovery, broken trust, and family rebuilding, it is safe to say that she has had to come to terms with what she really believes. It has been a journey for her and one that all teenagers approaching the young adult years have to navigate in one way or another. As parents we learned that our best contribution to her life in that season was to be healthy and whole as individuals, fight hard to restore our marriage, pray without ceasing, and give great grace and unconditional love when she was and is discovering who she is in Christ.
As you can see, we as a family have taken the time to identify some key take-aways from the recovery process that we have walked through. We have incorporated these, “take-aways” in our everyday life. Do we do things perfectly all the time? The answer is no, but we realize that as a family unit we are committed to walking the road of life recognizing that we are transforming until we meet Jesus face-to-face. One simple way that we have incorporated talking about life is at the dinner table. Each time we sit down to have dinner we ask two specific questions of each family member around the table:
1. What was the best part of your day?
2. What was the worst part of your day?
Through this discipline, we have been able to open up the door to conversations that we’ve never had before. It's simple...but it's life changing.
What have you learned along the road of life?