I understand that when you use the term “broken families” it’s because your hearts are hurting for the people going through divorce or separation or conflict with their spouses.
It’s because you’re aching with sadness for the children who won’t be able to grow up with both parents around the dinner table and you desperately want to fix that.
I get it.
My parents have been married for coming up on 40 years and it would destroy me, even now, if something were to happen to that holy bond.
But I just want to throw another voice into the mix: the stepparent.
My husband’s marriage was over long before I came into the picture.
He was living with his daughter as a full-time single dad before he even knew my name.
There was so much pain in the separation of his marriage. It would be ridiculous to deny that.
There was pain and there was brokenness.
Particularly, of course, for Jess. At the end of the day, she’s the one whose life was most impacted.
But slowly, ever so slowly, Christopher and Jess began to form their own little family. One that I eventually was blessed to become a part of. And Jess’ mother formed hers as well.
The divorce had an irreparable impact on all who were involved in it, absolutely, but at what point does brokenness turn into something new?
Every time I hear a pastor preach on “broken families” it makes me feel like the church views my family as less than.
That they view stepparents as accessories to a crime they weren’t even present to witness.
I am not advocating for divorce or denying its indelible impact, but what we say matters. Language matters.
And this isn’t just about stepfamilies, either.
What about single parents who escaped abusive spouses or unhealthy marriages, but come to church and hear a sermon on how their family – one with just one parent in it now – isn’t good enough? Is “broken”?
I believe that marriage is a sacred covenant, one that I do not take lightly, and that divorce is a serious, life-changing decision.
But I also believe that God heals people. God heals families. And that doesn’t always look like putting things back together into their original orientation.
Families with single parents, families with stepparents, families with grandparents raising children and all situations in between, they are just that:
I don’t want the church to stop focusing on creating and sustaining healthy marriages and healthy families, I just want us to remember that that doesn’t always look like mom, dad, and 2.5 biological kids.
And that’s okay.
If your family looks different than the “normal” family, if your family has parts that are bruised or pained or born out of struggle, that’s okay.
That is more than okay.
You are still a family.
Full, whole, and holy.