Three Patterns of Families in a Mess

by Joey Johnson 
August 27, 2012
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There is an excellent Minirth/Meier book entitled Kids Who Carry Our Pain. The gist of it is that our children deal with and finish the pain in our lives that we didn't work through. But I would take it one step further: Kids not only carry our pain, they also carry the consequences of our sin. A lot of that pain exists as a result of the consequences of our sin.
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That is easy to understand with devastating sins like abuse, alcoholism, or drug abuse. It is still true but much harder to see and understand with sins such as gluttony, selfishness, and pride.

Let me state this in terms that are easier for us to understand: Family sin leads to family mess! 

When we say something is a mess, we mean that the situation is disorderly, confusing, muddled, troubling, difficult, untidy, dirty, and thus embarrassing. Disorder means a lack of normal order. This suggests the upset of the normal functions or health of something. Consequently, the word is strongly related to the concept of dysfunctionality. Therefore, family sin leads to family dysfunctionality--a family that is not functioning as it ought to function. It's a family mess!

Families in a mess have three patterns that members tend to follow: 

1.   Don't talk. Don't ever talk to anyone about the sin, abuse, or neglect that is going on in your family. Keep the family secrets. Generally, the sicker the family the more secrets there are that must be kept. I am not discussing the normal privacy of a healthy family, but the sick privacy of abuse.

2.   Don't feel. Do whatever you have to do to keep from facing the pain of your situation. Use whatever substance, pattern, person, thing, or idea you need to stay out of the pain. Don't face the real pain because it will undo you. Everybody wants to just go on. But you can't go on over family mess! It needs to be dealt with. When Nehemiah came to Jerusalem, not only were the walls broken down and the gates burned with fire, but there was also debris in the street. You can't build a city on debris--you need to clean up first. You can't just go on. Family mess needs to be dealt with.

3.   Don't trust. You have been so devastated in your life that you cannot afford to trust anyone no matter how trustworthy a person might seem or how he might prove himself. This includes God! If people are untrustworthy, God must be, too. 

As I stated earlier, our operative phrase occurs four times in God's Word. Some have said that four is the number of the earth. Family mess happens, even "As the World Turns!" It is not something you can avoid, but it is something that you can heal from.

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The Biblical World Through New Glasses: Seeing the Bible through its Cultural Context 
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