My heart is heavy and grateful all at the same time. We’ve just spent a little more than 3 days on the road. We saw old friends, wonderful people and finished with new friends, wonderful people. But there was a definite theme woven throughout our time. It was relationships. We were reminded of relationships that have stood the test of time, through celebrations of births and the sorrow of death. Some of these relationships deal with depression and health issues on a regular basis. Others have to continually work on learning about their loved one because they are so “different” from each other. Always communication is at the core of the good and the difficult. As we traveled we were reminded of strong relationships and how our own friends held us accountable when we were in a very tough patch in our life. Happily we are doing great in this season of our lives and it’s so humbling to say so. God faithfully saw us through and now carries us day by day.
However our kids are at the age where many of their friends are in serious relationships or married, as are many of our nieces and nephews. These young adults are people we care about deeply. Sadly over the past few days we were made aware of not one but multiple young relationships that are struggling. My heart is heavy. Not because they are struggling, we all have tough patches in our relationships but because from what I understand they are hiding their struggles. I want to be clear from the start, I do not expect nor do I recommend that anyone broadcast their relationship struggles. However, being honest and reaching out for help before things get really out of control would be a good thing. Starting by talking to each other is the right thing to do but when you run in to a wall, it’s time to get help.
Mark and I have been mentored. We mentor others and even train mentors. We believe it is a very good thing. Having someone a few steps ahead of you in your relationship to watch and talk to can really help. Talking with a neutral party who can help you make sure you are truly communicating often breaks barriers that you didn’t even realize were there. Mentors are readily available in most communities and often don’t cost a thing. The sad part is two-fold. Often the hurting couple doesn’t ask for help until they are desperate, meanwhile they’ve had months of hurts building up and making things worse. Or worse yet they don’t ever ask for help and their relationship ends. Meanwhile there are usually a few people who are aware of the struggles. So the other side of the coin is the observing friends. Sometimes as friends we are afraid to say anything. We just go on pretending nothing is wrong. Why? Usually it’s fear that our friend will be hurt or mad at us. Our friends reached out. They started by just listening and praying for us. However, there came a point when they supported and challenged us to be sure to get help.
Marriage is hard. Society tells us relationships are supposed to make us feel good, build us up. That is true but it is NOT the whole story. Relationships are to grow us up, build our character. That takes walking through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Relationships take commitment. I believe marriage is a lifelong commitment. I know divorce happens. It’s happened in my family. That’s not what this is about. This is about current relationships that are struggling. Will they give up and believe the lies that they will be happier if they get out of their current relationship or will they dig in and work at building their relationship. Will we as friends and family sit by and watch, being quiet because we don’t want to “overstep” our bounds or will we let them know we are hurting but their marriage is worth fighting for?
As one who has been through the fire and not only survived but is thriving, I say FIGHT!. Look for help to see the truth. Pray and don’t give up. If anyone reads this and realizes that they would really like to find some help, contact me at Jody’s e-mail. Any e-mails sent to me will be kept in confidence but we will talk about who should know, who could possibly help.
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