I had to describe my family structure in my Pastoral Care of Families class. Since I could not just say “dysfunctional,” I described my family. To be honest, my family is not any more dysfunctional than anyone else’s. There were a couple of people in my class that were the class two parents, two children, one dog setup, but that was definitely not the majority. Even though I am aware that even the two parents, two children family combo is not always not dysfunctional, though the Cleavers do instantly pop into my head. Once the pearls come off and the pie is taken out of the window, it is easy to see no one’s family is cookie-cutter.
One by one my classmates began to describe their families. There were divorces, step-siblings, half-siblings—a multitude of family combinations. I didn’t take long describing my family. I have an older brother. I have a mother and father. My parents are separated. I don’t really even consider my father as part of my family, so the professor wrote “absent father” to the already long list on the board of family systems. I guess absent father is a good description. I mean, he left when I was ten—in the fifth grade. I didn’t even see him for a period of five years. As I was thinking about it in class, I realized that it was not fair to have my home shaken up like that when I was so young. Yet, as I listened to my classmates, no one has a “normal” family.
And that shapes us, whether we like it or not.
Our backgrounds and our pasts change us. They affect us, some more deeply than others, but like a plague, everyone is affected.
I am grateful for the things that I went through. I mean, from the way I look at it, I see that there were two changes that occurred when my father left. First, we began to be able to kill spiders. That was a big deal because dad never let us kill them, instead we would always have to capture them and release them back outside. And I am very afraid of spiders. Second, I began going to church, which eventually lead me into a deeper relationship with Christ and I became a Christian.
The best part about our brokenness, in my opinion, is that it shows that we are all slightly damaged. We all need healing. We all need to love to each one another. We arrive into the world as a bundle of purity, soft baby skin and that soft baby smell. As we grow up, we change. We are dinged by the world. We are hurt, sometimes we bleed. And we all need healing. From one thing or another.
The best part about being slightly damaged is that when we reach the point where we can be honest and authentic with one another, there springs hope out of our brokenness, like a flower bud springs out from the cold, hard, winter-worn dirt.