Broken Family? You’re Not Alone

Dear Parent, I know how you must be feeling…

You’re a failure.

I know shame is whispering that lie as you wonder who your child has talked to and whether or not they’ve told; you’re desperately hoping the news doesn’t get out.

Now they’ll know you’re a failure.

As a mentor in your kid’s life, I know I sometimes have a front row seat to your problems, a backstage pass to the messy parts of your family story. My direct ministry to your student means I hear lots of details you might not want me to hear. I know the feeling that you’re being exposed, wanting desperately to undo the sin and mistakes and flaws that feed the guilt.

Everyone will see pretty soon, and then there will be no hiding your failure.

Maybe the voice of shame isn’t whispering, but rather shouting, frantically telling you to batten down the hatches, circle the wagons, and hide. You think the helplessness you feel in the face of your child’s sin, depression, sickness, anxiety, failures, and rebellion might just overwhelm you completely. Maybe you are closing your eyes with hands clasped, hoping beyond hope that this will all just go away.

Dear parent, this is what I’m telling your student and I want you to hear it too: you are not alone. Hear those words in the deepest place of your isolating shame: you are not alone.

There are many who have traveled the same roads, wrestled with the same struggles, and endured the same trials. The tears that are shed into your pillow are collected in the same bottle as the saints who have gone before. There is, comfortingly, nothing new under the sun, a truth that those of us in ministry can attest to.

Shame tells you that you are a failure, that this season or event or struggle will define you and your family for a lifetime; but grace points you straight to the cross. On the cross, Jesus was exposed, humiliated, and scorned so that your shame could be done away with. You may have a list in your mind of all the ways you have failed to measure up, but Jesus cancelled the record of debt that stands against you (Colossians 2.14). He has ripped up the accusations and charges. He has removed your condemnation as far from the east is from the west, and has seated you at the right hand of your Father in heaven.

The grace of the gospel reaches into the darkest of places – even places like these. Shame declares that asking for help is an admission of defeat, but truth declares that asking for help is a confession of hope. By leading your family in honesty, you are planting a flag in the sand proclaiming you believe healing is available. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, there is nothing – not even this dark journey – that can separate you from His faithful, preserving love.

Oh friend, you are not alone. Don’t hide. Don’t let the enemy cause you to doubt the beautiful good news of Jesus’ work on the cross. May Jesus equip you for gospel-centered war against this shame: tears, counseling, prayer, hugs from the people who love you. Your family may be broken right now, but you belong to a bigger family and to a Father who has promised to one day make all things new. Amen.


Sarah lives in Macon, Georgia where she is a high school Bible teacher at First Presbyterian Day School. She graduated from Columbia International University with a BA in Bible and Youth Ministry and an MA in Bible Teaching.

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