I grew up in a home where expressions of real affection were not common. We were a competitive family not given to open expressions of emotion. And yet, when a crisis would arise in the life of any family member, we stood solidly together - and God help anyone who tried to come between us. But when the crisis was over, we would withdraw into our shells again, secure in the knowledge that the support was there when we needed it.
I have often reflected on the "why" of this. Perhaps a crisis gave us permission to be open and vulnerable with one another. Perhaps it broke down the veneer that we put up to make everyone think that we were OK. Were we too afraid to be vulnerable without a genuine "excuse"?
In the church, I often see the same: we remain withdrawn, longing to be closer to one another, but unsure how to do it, or lacking the courage to take the risk of coming out from behind the shell of protection we have erected. It is only when a crisis occurs that we really find out how much people care. Does it have to be this way? Do we want it to be this way? I suspect that those veneers hide real needs which are crying for attention.
Can we break these down without a crisis? Will we even keep a crisis to ourselves and not know the real support that is available? In this Year of the Family, let's make God's family a more openly caring place: invite someone home for a meal; telephone someone just to see how they're going, offer a helping hand where you can. Let's not wait for a crisis to happen - the needs are real now - and the resources are available to meet them.
May 22, 1994