Saturday, February 11, 2017

Ripples--by Linden Malki

Mom, why does Dad have a secret cell phone?"  My friend suspected something like this, but she was sad that their son had found out about it. Things had not been good for a long time, but this was the beginning of the end game. He had been throwing around accusations and hints that she was the one who was losing her touch on reality.  In fact, he pretty much had been living in his own reality all along. It wasn't like he didn't know; he'd grown up in a church, had a brother who was a preacher, and could talk it with the best of them. He just didn't really care about anyone but himself and his own self-image.  Their kids were old enough to see what was happening, and to be ready to take primary responsibility for their own lives; some things would be tough, but some would be better off without him.

It's not just Mom and Dad and their kids.  When Dad moved out, his whole family stopped speaking to Mom, even though they had all been good friends.  There was another woman hanging out with Dad, who also had a younger child. She caught onto him pretty fast, however.  Mom had known things were not right for a long time, but she wasn't about to see a situation where he would have access to their kids without her.  The biggest thing her friends noticed was that she was having a hard time trusting people; she wasn't used to "nice."

When there is sin in a marriage, it doesn't only affect the partners; even if it is hidden, there is a difference: it changes the relationships with other family, friends, and how we live in community. There are ripples in the smooth face of life. In the past generation or so, there were two prominent national personalities that grew up in similar circumstances--an alcoholic father or stepfather, struggling mom, kids that didn't know what to expect next. There was a difference, however, in how they coped. One mom was very honest about the problem; she explained to their children that no, we don't like some of the things that your dad does, but appreciate the good things and pray through the bad things.  The other mom tried to cover it up; hide, lie, don't admit that we have a problem, don't tell anyone what goes on. A son of the first mom grew up to be an honorable and respected leader; the other one became known for his ability to charm folks, to lie and to cheat. It made a difference to a lot of people who knew these men; who worked with them, and were affected by them. Little ripples can become tsunamis.

There are times when staying on God's track may not be easy; it may be uncomfortable, and not always "fun". The payoff is when you get to the end, and you don't have the baggage of broken relationships, hurting people that you responsible for, and a trail of tears behind you. My dad liked to cook; he always did Sunday and holiday dinners. One thing that Mom really appreciated is that as he worked, he washed all the dishes, pots, pans, and tools he had used, so when the meal was on the table, the kitchen was clean. That's what God wants for us--to come to Him without a mess trailing behind us.  Yes, God can clean up any mess we let him have, but there may still be stains and scars.  Even Jesus has scars--that's what our sins cost.

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