I grew up talking about my family a lot—what I didn’t like, what I’d do differently when I was dad. I thought, sometimes idealistically, that things would be different when I was in charge.
Of course, now that I’ve been “in charge” of four kids for more than two decades, I’ve got a great deal more respect for my parents than I did back when I knew everything. But my parents really wanted the same thing for us that Debbie and I want for our kids: to have a better life than we did, to avoid the mistakes we made, to have more opportunity than we had.
Andy Stanley is exploring this idea right now in his new series at North Point called “Future Family.” No, it’s not about George, Jane, Elroy and the rest of the Jetsons. This series is a thoughtful, sometimes humorous look at the reality that, while we all came from a certain kind of family, the kind of family that we want for the future probably looks a lot different from our family of origin.
This idea of “family of origin” is all the rage these days in psychology circles. Psychologists define your family of origin as the family you grew up with (people you didn’t choose) versus the people you connect with now (people you likely chose.) The importance of your family of origin shouldn’t be understated: that’s where you learned to be loved or feel rejection, where you learned to make wise decisions or saw poor decisions repeated over and over again, where you found out that you’d always be safe, or you’d never be safe.
Andy’s messages are tackling these big issues.
Even though your family was far from perfect, there are some ideal qualities that God seems to want to see in our families. As you might expect, these aren’t necessarily the usual markers of suburban success. God didn’t say anything about a BMW, a two-car garage and a star soccer player. Instead, the virtues that God designs in a family are the same ones that Jesus demonstrated as He walked along the road with His disciples. (Did you ever think about the idea that when the disciples followed Jesus, their families probably followed too? It wouldn’t be right to leave them at home when Peter and the guys were having all that disciple-fun.)
Andy asks a question that goes like this, “Are you willing to accept that there’s an ideal, but also accept that your family’s the way it’s going to be with all its imperfections and inadequacies?” How does this change the scorecard?
We’ve been talking for a while about the difference between a perfect picture and the reality of the way families are. Only about a quarter of the families look like the Jetsons: a dad, a mom and one or more kids. Most families—the vast majority—are blended families, single-parent families, no-parent families, grandparent families, even two-dad and two-mom families. (That last part’s a reality, whether we’re ready for it or not, and challenges the way we think about our neighbors.)
Nobody talks about tension better than Andy and this is one place where we need to live in the tension, even embrace it.
“Jesus is inviting you, in fact I think Jesus is instructing you and is instructing me to follow Him into the complexity of family life and carry the tensions between what’s real and what’s ideal,” Andy says, “The question is: will we embrace the standard that many of us have fallen short of or will we redefine terms so we can feel better about where we are? . . . Yes, we fall short, we don’t always get it right. But I’m not going to change the rules so I can feel better. I’m willing to live with the tension between reality and this ideal Jesus gave us.”
The biggest reality is, as Andy so strongly communicates, you can have a say in what your Future Family looks like. You can make wise decisions that lead to your family being different from the family you came from or the family you were afraid you’d become. That’s the kind of future we can all look forward to.
(Access videos and discussion questions from Andy’s Future Family series at http://NorthPointMinistries.org/FutureFamily